The Obama administration has moved to reassert its authority on immigration policy by suing Arizona state over its draconian plans to curb illegal immigration.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Phoenix, argues that Arizona’s law requiring state and local police to question anyone they reasonably suspect of being an illegal immigrant undermines the federal government’s authority.
“In our constitutional system, the federal government has pre-eminent authority to regulate immigration matters,” the lawsuit says. “This authority derives from the United States constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests.”
The government is seeking an injunction to delay the 29 July implementation of the law until the case is resolved. It ultimately wants the law declared invalid. Mexico as well as several civil liberties groups have opposed the Arizona measure, and several other legal challenges are pending in federal court in the state.
Republicans condemned the lawsuit, saying the law had not yet entered into force so the challenge was premature. They also argued that the Arizona law was justified as the federal government had failed to deal with the issue.
“The Obama administration has not done everything it can do to protect the people of Arizona from the violence and crime illegal immigration brings to our state,” the two Republican senators from Arizona, John McCain and Jon Kyl, said in a statement.
Arizona passed the law after years of frustration over problems associated with illegal immigration, including drug trafficking and kidnappings. The state is the biggest entry point into the US for illegal immigrants, and is home to an estimated 460,000 of them.
The White House fears that the Arizona law could lead to a patchwork of different laws passed by various states and local authorities. Last week,Fremont, a small town in Nebraska, voted to in effect banish all illegal immigrants.