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US Democratic Lawmakers Welcome Ruling Blocking Parts of Arizona Immigration Law

  • Cindy Saine

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other Democratic lawmakers held a news conference on Thursday to welcome this week's federal court ruling blocking the most controversial parts of Arizona's new immigration law. More than 100 Democratic lawmakers are sponsoring a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but no Republicans have joined them.

Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois told reporters that he is delighted with the ruling blocking parts of the new Arizona immigration law, which went into effect on Thursday.

Gutierrez said he agrees with the Obama administration that immigration is a federal and not a state issue.

"The Constitution of the United States clearly mandates the federal government's responsibility when it comes to the implementation of immigration policy," said Luis Gutierrez.

Congressman Gutierrez had this rebuke to many Republican leaders and activists of the grassroots Tea Party movement who have voiced support for the tough Arizona law, citing America's Founding Fathers who wrote the U.S. Constitution.

"For those who speak frequently about the Founding Fathers, you know, the Constitution is not the menu that you can pick at lunch or dinner, and decide what it is you are going to approve of," he said. "The Constitution is the Constitution, and it was upheld yesterday [Wednesday, 7/28/10]."

U.S. Judge Susan Bolton issued a temporary injunction against parts of the law on Wednesday, including a measure that requires police to check the immigration status of any person they stop for a violation and whom they suspect might be in the country illegally. Opponents of the law say that would be discriminatory because it would encourage police to stop and question anyone who looks Hispanic - the ethnic group that makes up the largest percentage of illegal immigrants in the United States.

The Obama administration filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona to keep the law from being enforced, arguing that under the U.S. Constitution, immigration is a responsibility of the national government.

Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer vows to appeal the court's injunction, saying that she will take the fight all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. Brewer and other Arizona officials say the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico has led to an increase in crime in the state.

On the floor of the House of Representatives, Republican Lamar Smith of Texas criticized the Obama administration for failing to secure the U.S. border with Mexico, and the news media for bias on the immigration issue.

"The ruling will be seen by Arizonans and the vast majority of Americans who support the law as just another example of this administration's failure to deal with illegal immigration and border security," said Lamar Smith. "Like the administration, the national media have shown a clear bias against the Arizona law."

The Chairwoman of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, Democrat Nydia Velazquez of New York, pointed out that 100 Democratic House members are co-sponsoring a comprehensive immigration reform bill and that no Republicans have endorsed the measure.

"So we urge Republicans to stop playing politics and start supporting a true comprehensive immigration reform bill," said Nydia Velazquez. "The American people want real solutions."

Most Republican leaders object to parts of the legislation that provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

Some Republican lawmakers accuse Democrats of playing politics, saying they are supporting the immigration reform legislation to win Hispanic voters.

With congressional elections in November, analysts say it is unlikely that Congress will take up the controversial issue of immigration reform any time soon.