News / USA

US Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Arizona Over Immigration Law

TEXT SIZE - +

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 award-winning television reporter who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.  She has won an Emmy, many Associated Press awards, and a Clarion for her coverage of Haiti,  national politics, the southern economy, and the 9/11 bombing anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Syrian medical crisis and the Asiana plane crash, and was VOA’s chief reporter from the Boston Marathon bombing.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid