Justice Department sues Arizona over immigration law

The Justice Department sued Arizona over the state's new immigration law Tuesday, saying the Arizona law conflicts with federal law, would disrupt immigration enforcement and would lead to police harassment of those who cannot prove their lawful status, according to The Washington Post.

The Arizona law, which is scheduled to take effect July 29, was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) in April and gives police officers the power to question anyone who they have a "reasonable suspicion" is an illegal immigrant.

Filed in federal court in Arizona, the Justice Department's lawsuit says the state measure is unconstitutional and asks the judge to stop it from taking effect. It says the law would unnecessarily burden federal agencies charged with immigration enforcement; cause federal officials to lose focus on top-priority targets such as immigrants involved in terrorism or other crimes; and burden local law enforcement officials.

Civil rights groups say the law is the toughest law in the U.S. against illegal immigrants and that it targets Hispanics; however, the legislation states police "may not consider race, color or national origin" when seeking to determine immigration status.

By challenging the Arizona law, the federal government has becoming more deeply involved in the passionate debate regarding how to handle the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

At least five other lawsuits challenging the law have been filed in federal court by civil rights groups and others; hearings are set for July 15 and July 22.

Although attention currently is focused on the Arizona law, lawmakers in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah already have taken steps against illegal immigration and say they could adopt Arizona-style legislation next year. Legislators in at least 17 other states introduced similar bills this year; however, it is expected most measures likely will not be adopted.

Date : 7/12/2010