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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Obama sues state of Arizona over 'racist' new immigration law

President Obama has filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona over a new immigration law which it claims  will combat drug trafficking, murders and violent kidnapping.

Concerns over racial profiling and civil rights violations have been raised over the Arizona law, which is due to come into force on July 29.

It requires officers to question a person's immigration status if they have a reasonable suspicion they are in the U.S. illegally.
Suspicions include whether the person speaks poor English, is travelling an overcrowded vehicle or is stopped in an area where immigrants often congregate.

The law also makes it a state crime for legal immigrants not to carry their immigration documents.

Supporters say the crackdown is a necessary tool to keep illegal immigrants out of Arizona and to tackle criminal activities associated with them.

The White House has asked a judge to grant an injunction to block the law taking effect later this month.

It argues that immigration laws passed by Congress and enforced by a range of federal agenies must take precedence to any passed by a state legislature.

The lawsuit said: 'The nation's immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations and humanitarian interests.'

It adds: 'A state may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with the federal immigration laws.

'The Constitution and the federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country.'

Kris Kobach, the University of Missouri/Kansas City professor who helped draft the Arizona law, has said it is only prohibiting conduct already illegal under federal law.

Harvard Law School professor Gerald Neuman has said Arizona could make a compelling legal argument that it has overlapping authority to protect its residents.

But court in the past have ruled that under the Constitution, any state law that conflicts with a federal law is pre-empted.

The pre-emption tactic has been used on several occasions, including by the Bush administration to limit product liability lawsuits.

It was also used to overturn bans on military recruiters passed by some California towns.

Peter Spiro, a constitutional law professor at Temple University, said: 'Immigration has traditionally and constitutionally been the historic preserve of the federal government, and there are cases going back to the late 19th century that say as much.

'So the Obama Administration has a lot to work with in filing this claim, and the fact that the claim is filed by the administration adds credibility... and increases the chances that law will be struck down on pre-emption grounds.

'That said, it not by any means a slam dunk.'

Regardless of how the case is determined at the district court level, it will likely be appealed.

The U.S. Supreme Court is already set to hear an Arizona immigration case in the fall when it takes up a challenge to a 2007 state law punishing employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Mr Spiro added: 'It's clearly an important case. The Arizona law is unprecedented in its aggressive posture towards illegal immigrants.

'It's an important issue federally, really, that's the way the administration is framing it. They say the states do not have this kind of role as far an immigration legislation.'

Daily Mail