News / USA

US Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Arizona Over Immigration Law

The fierce debate in the United States over illegal immigration intensified this week as the Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the southwestern state of Arizona's new law against illegal immigration.  

The law would require police to ask for proof of legal status in the United States, if there is reasonable suspicion that a person is in the country illegally.  It would be the first time that illegal immigration would violate a state law in addition to federal law.  

On Tuesday [7/6/10], the U.S. Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit against Arizona for having "crossed a constitutional line" that guarantees that federal law supersedes state law.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the national government.

"Enforcement along this border and in those border states is primarily a federal responsibility," said Janet Napolitano. "That, we do that, but we need more manpower, more technology, more infrastructure to assist, that's part of our plan."

Supporters of the Arizona law say the federal government has not done enough to combat the problem of illegal immigrants crossing the southern U.S. border.

Arizona is the largest gateway into the United States for illegal immigrants and it is home to an estimated 460,000 people who have entered the country illegally.

Colby May is Senior Counsel for the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice that focuses on constitutional law issues.

"Arizona is not trying to regulate immigration here," said Colby May. "They are not saying who can come and who can go.  They are simply passing a law that mirrors what the federal government has had on its books for 40 years.  And in that context, what is it that seems to be so shocking that the federal government is so surprised by?"

According to a recent public opinion survey by the Pew Research Center here in Washington, more than 60 percent of Americans approve of the Arizona law.

Last month, voters in the city of Fremont, Nebraska passed a measure that prohibits businesses from hiring and landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.  And last week, the governor of Tennessee signed a law requiring jailers to check the immigration status of prisoners.  Analysts say the future of laws such as these rests on the outcome of the Arizona case.

Steve Vladeck teaches constitutional law at American University here in Washington.  He predicts that the courts will rule against Arizona by upholding the Constitution's supremacy clause, which states that federal law takes precedence over a conflicting state law.

But Vladeck says Arizona will have achieved its goal, even if it loses the case.

"I don't think they have the power to do it [have a law on immigration]," said Steve Vladeck. "But I think they have accomplished what they wanted to in the beginning, which was to start a national conversation about immigration policy and immigration reform."

The federal government is requesting an injunction to stop Arizona from enforcing the law when it takes effect later this month.  With both sides vowing to take the case to court, analysts say the controversy could eventually end up before the Supreme Court of the United States.   


Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid