July 6th, 2010
02:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Justice Department challenges Arizona immigration law

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/06/art.holder.doj.gi.jpg caption ="The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit challenging a contentious Arizona immigration law."]

Washington (CNN) - The Justice Department Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging a tough new Arizona immigration law.

The law, which is scheduled to take effect at the end of July, requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and allows police to question the residency status of people in the course of enforcing another law. It also targets businesses that hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transports them.

President Barack Obama said in a speech July 1 that the measure has "fanned the flames of an already contentious debate." Among other things, it puts pressure on police officers to enforce rules that are "unenforceable" while making communities less safe - in part, by making people more reluctant to report crimes, he said.

It also has "the potential of violating the rights of innocent American citizens and legal residents, making them subject to possible stops or questioning because of what they look like or how they sound."

Before the government's filing, Arizona's two senators, both Republicans, called the Obama administration move "far too premature."


"Moreover, the American people must wonder whether the Obama administration is really committed to securing the border when it sues a state that is simply trying to protect its people by enforcing immigration law," Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain said in a statement.

Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick called the suit a "sideshow" in a statement released before it was officially filed.

"A court battle between the federal government and Arizona will not move us closer to securing the border or fixing America's broken immigration system," she said.

Arizona's Republican governor, Jan Brewer, has accused the Obama administration of failing to secure the border with Mexico, thereby forcing her state to act on its own.

"Do your job. Secure the border," Brewer said of the president in a July 1 speech to a Republican group. She pledged to "defend this law against every assault, including attacks by the Obama administration."

Obama renewed his push for comprehensive immigration reform last week, calling for bipartisan cooperation on an issue reflecting deep social and political divisions.

Seeking an elusive middle ground on the subject, the president highlighted the importance of immigrants to American history and progress while acknowledging the fear and frustration many feel with a system that he said seems "fundamentally broken."

He asserted that the majority of Americans are ready to embrace reform legislation that would help resolve the status of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

In his July 1 speech, Obama warned that rounding up everyone in the country who has entered illegally would be both "logistically impossible" and "tear at the fabric of the nation." At the same time, the president indicated it would be wrong to offer blanket amnesty for people who came into the United States unlawfully.

Despite Obama's call for bipartisan immigration reform, several senior Democratic sources said Thursday that they see virtually no chance of Congress taking up such a measure before November's midterm elections.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. national poll conducted in late May indicated that public support for beefing up security along the U.S. border with Mexico had grown significantly.

According to the survey, nearly nine out of 10 Americans want to increase U.S. law enforcement along the border with Mexico.

Eight in 10 questioned also supported a program that would allow illegal immigrants already in the United States to stay here and apply for legal residency, provided they had a job and paid back taxes.

But only 38 percent say that program should be a higher priority than border security and other get-tough proposals. Six in 10 said border security was the higher priority.

- CNN's Terry Frieden and Bill Mears contributed to this report


Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Mary

    Yeah, one state gets it right - better sue them. Can't have them making fools of everyone else

    July 6, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. S Callahan

    Try to find the humor in this...the justice dept. is going to court to fight against laws already established at the National Level and ones they are paid to enforce........ Does that mean they testify against themselves???

    July 6, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  3. Larry

    Nice job guys!

    Good people in the Justice Department!

    July 6, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  4. Bill, Bloominton IL

    Someone should sue the federal government for not doing their job.

    July 6, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. Tracy W

    FOOLS! What a bunch of arrogant, self-serving morons. This will prove to be the straw that broke the camel's back. I am ashamed of this poor excuse of an administration. It's time, we the people, start suing our federal government for not securing our border, and keeping this country safe.

    July 6, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  6. Seth

    President Obama is on the wrong side of this one.

    His idealogy is ignoring the rule of law that currently exists at the FEDERAL level.

    He didn't grasp shutting down the oil wells either, and thankfully a judge set him straight on that one.

    stomping on Az this time, La was stomped over oil clean-up.

    Which state will be next. Whose throat will feel his boot next time?

    What a miserable President. Hard to believe that this is real.

    July 6, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. JES

    This is nothing but BS. If we would enforce our laws now AZ wouldn't have to pass a law that we already have.

    Every country I have been to with the exception of the US you have to carry proof of where you are from.

    If they would come in the front door we wouldn't have this problem.

    Get off your dead as_ and get other matters fixed all AZ is doing is taking a load off the Federal Government because they don't seem to have time to do it.

    July 6, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  8. John

    Not too premature!
    After years of do nothing by the Republicans they all of a sudden have gotten "alien" religion. This in my estimation is their attempt to create a wedge issue that they can rally the conservative base on.
    Christians? NOT!!!!

    July 6, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. Simon/Orlando

    Arizona is not the enemy. The enemy is the Federal government not enforcing the law of the land and sealing the borders. One in five illegals has a criminal record and every illegal costs each American tax payer over $1000 a year in support. The only reason they are soft on illegals is that immigration reform will soon give them voting rights and they will vote democrat.

    July 6, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. Dave

    I do not understand this. There is NOTHING in the Arizona law that is not already part of the federal law. The difference is the feds do not do anything to enforce it.

    One can only hope this gets thrown out immediately. It is just another example of the far left losing with their ideas during the legislation process so they try to force it on the American people through the courts.

    VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE!

    July 6, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. Ancient Texan

    Secure the border, period. Then let the politicians spend all the wasted time they care to on trying to convince the American People to accept Amnesty for the 12 (?) million illegals. I've heard numbers as high as 30 million people here illegally.

    July 6, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Brian L

    Republicans have NO reasons to want to fix anything..... all they want is to watch things fail...... and people will give them their votes????

    July 6, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. If you want something ruined let a democratic community organizer handle it

    In the same breath, will Obama's Justice Department file a lawsuit against Chicago's newly crafted anti-handgun law?

    As for the Arizona law, kudos to the folks in the southwest,

    July 6, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Susan

    The Justice Dept is really jumping the gun and making some big assumptions regarding the affect of the Arizona immigration law. When did having the 'potential' to do something translate into guilty?

    The world has changed and the United States isn't a wide open unexplored land anymore. We need to secure our boarders against illegal intruders and STOP DISCRIMINATING AGAINST LEGAL IMMIGRANTS who are following the law in their request to live in the United States.

    July 6, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. wake up

    Just came out that illegals cost us 113 billion a year.....in which we borrow from China.
    Why does Obama hate our children? STOP SPENDING, secure the borders, and STOP SPENDING.

    Who's going to pay quadrupling the debt that Obama has done in just under 2 years?

    July 6, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  16. Sgt. USMC

    Get 'em Mr. President, show those bastards who's boss!!!

    July 6, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. jeff

    What an idiotic waste of federal resources!

    This is not about some poor folks hoping for a better life, this is about enforcing the law. We have immigration laws (and quotas) for a reason: to reasonably assimilate other cultures into ours. If we want to change the limits on various countries, that's a matter for Congress to thrash out.

    But if it's okay to let everyone south of the US border to pour in because we're just being nice, then the same is true about everyone in the Islamic world, Africa, and Asia. Europeans (and Canadians) probably won't come because they have a better health care system.

    Any police officer anywhere, when making a stop for probable cause, has the right to ask for proof of identity... if you don't have it, you should have a problem!

    July 6, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. Gil

    Yes, when I was in Arizona recently I was asked for my passport? What have we done! Stop this immigration madness! I thought I was an American?

    July 6, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. norma

    My favorite sections of the AZ law.

    11-1051 E
    A law enforcement officer, with or without a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.

    What public offense????

    13-1509 Traspassing by illegal aliens
    A
    In addition to any federal law, a person is guilty of traspassing if the person is...present on any public or private land in this state.

    So, a police officer could stop you for walking down the street or standing on the front porch of your house if he has "probably cause" to believe you are in the country illegally.

    Sorry folks, but I expect a bit more freedom in the United States. What country do we live in where a police officer can approach you on your front porch and ask for your "papers"? If you can't provide them, you can be arrested. That's not the USA I know and love.

    July 6, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  20. Do your job Feds

    If the federal governement would secure our borders, then there would be no issue here. And it is not just Obama, not one president has done jack crap to stop illegals in many many years.

    Doy ou what irks me the most here. People yelling about human rights. Ok, I am all for that. But we have three US hikers in Iran who were arrested for nothing more than being lost.
    The double standard is so far to the left, it is not funny. If an American went to Cuba, Mexico, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, China, Japan, etc etc illegally, they would be either jailed, kicked out, or maybe even killed. THAT is the truth, Americans who go to other countries have NO RIGHTS according to many of those countries. But yet, we are supposed to tell the illegal Mexicans,,,, come on over,,, take our jobs, go on welfare, have more kids, then have more after that. Become a kid factory to get more medical care and food stamps.
    Run drugs over our border,, we will not stop you. Murder ranchers, we wont stop you.

    Double standard,,, as far as I care, if your illegal, go back,,,, if you try to come in again. You get one warning shot.

    July 6, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. Independant Vet

    Why Obama opposes the law.

    Last count there is more than 120,000,000 Illegals already here .
    That alone counts for votes .

    Now on the flip side of it , when the come here , illegally , an protest . Take down our flag , rehang it upide down with there flag above. Then give Americans the finger . Now you let them have guns, It spells trouble.

    Why Barrack is so blind sighted , ? Is it because he is in command an doing it Illegaly . Still has not show us his citizenship.

    Now if he has to have his way , forward all of them to Chicago.

    July 6, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. Bob

    Ok, The President lies, CNN lies and nothing is getting done. If anyone really cared they would install E-Verify that goes ignored by President, Congress and CNN. This would make it impossible for illegal aliens to work thus they would not come making the immediate securing of the border a minor issue. Yet they refuse. Cnn thing 8 in 10 want a path to citizenship as a reward for illegal aliens. A LIE. If these idiots are so sure how about putting this issue on a national ballot and let the American people make the hard decisions that our goverment cannot.

    July 6, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. Eric in Denver

    Barry wants open borders so is this really a surprise? Arizona is trying to enforce the federal law that Barry opposes and now the government is suing them? Only in America under our present socialist regime!!!!

    July 6, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. A HA

    Time for Americans to outsource all these illigals and VOTE em off the island.:-)

    July 6, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. Rob

    I want to hear all you right-wing racists defend Arizona. Losers.

    July 6, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
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