U.S. Justice Department Sues Arizona

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Yesterday, the United States Justice Department officially filed suit against the state of Arizona, charging that the new laws conflict with federal immigration enforcement efforts. S.B. 1070, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in April and set to go into effect on July 29, gives police the power to stop anyone they have "reasonable suspicion" to believe is an undocumented immigrant. President Obama's administration is asserting that the new law usurps federal control of immigration enforcement and could result in police harassment of those who are unable to provide papers to prove their citizenship.

"The Constitution and the federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country," states the lawsuit. The Department of Justice's lawsuit against Arizona is based on the preemption doctrine in the Constitution's supremacy clause, which basically says that federal law trumps state law.

Professor of immigration law at University of Arizona Gabriel Chin echoed the sentiment of the lawsuit, telling Latina.com, "States don’t have the right to make their own immigration laws. States cannot set policy for reasons of national uniformity and the connection of foreign policy and immigration."

Lucas Guttentag, director of ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, pointed to the importance of the lawsuit in keeping these types of laws from spreading across the country: "This is the most extreme and dangerous of all state and local laws purporting to deal with immigration issues and the lawsuit is a way to shoot down any other states’ efforts to create similar laws."

Many critics suspect that the Obama administration moved ahead with the lawsuit as part of a politically calculated move to make immigration reform the central topic of the midterm elections, but senior DOJ officials denied the claims, saying, "We're charged not with doing what's popular or partisan or political, but doing what we think is right."

For more on SB 1070, Arizona, the latest on the immigration crisis and tips on how you can get involved in the debate, visit Latina.com's Call to Action page here.

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About this author

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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