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Tough State Immigration Law Could Face Federal Lawsuit

  • David Dyar

Protestors demonstrate against immigration legislation in US state of Arizona

Protestors demonstrate against immigration legislation in US state of Arizona

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government is considering a court challenge to the new law in the southwestern state of Arizona that is aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. There have been protests around the nation for and against the law.

The law requires immigrants to carry registration documents with them at all times, and instructs police to question people if there is reason to believe they are illegal immigrants.

Arizona is at the heart of the immigration debate. More than 600,000 illegal immigrants have been arrested along the border.

The issue is raising blood pressure outside the U.S. Capitol. Representative Luiz Gutierrez chairs the Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force. "The lunacy of rounding up people because they look a certain way or are suspected of being in violation of immigration statutes can only lead to one thing: violations of people's basic fundamental civil rights. Profiling," he said.

Opponents of the law have called for a boycott of businesses in the state. They say the law discriminates against and profiles mainly Latinos. Representative Raul Grijalva represents Arizona in Congress, but he is against the law. "All of us should be fearful of our civil rights of our human rights and of our constitutional protections," he said.

A legislator from Texas, a state which also shares its border with Mexico plans to introduce a similar bill. Republican Debbie Riddle says if the federal government would do its job, the states wouldn't have to take such actions.

The Obama administration may choose to challenge the state law. The president called the law "poorly conceived." "Now suddenly if you don't have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you're going to be harassed, that's something that could potentially happen. Thats not the right way to go," he said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates there are at least 10 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Some lawmakers favor a two-phase plan to legalize illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. Others want to post National Guard troops at the border.