Synopsis of the DOJ's Arguments in United States v. Arizona

On Tuesday, July 6, 2010, the United States filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona to invalidate, and stop the enforcement of, S.B. 1070 (as amended by H.B. 2162).

The United States, suing on behalf of itself, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of State, challenged Arizona's new law and argued that:

1. The Arizona law, as a whole, is invalid because it sets forth a state-level immigration policy that interferes with the federal government's preeminent authority to administer and enforce immigration laws; and

2. Sections 2-6 of the Arizona law are invalid because each section either conflicts with, or undermines, established Congressional objectives, federal enforcement and policy priorities, and/or existing federal laws and Constitutional principles.

Of particular note are the following arguments by the United States:

• In administering federal immigration laws, the federal government must carefully balance the often-competing objectives of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests. S.B. 1070, however, pursues only one goal--attrition--and ignores the other objectives that Congress established for the immigration system. • S.B. 1070 fails in furthering our goals of national law enforcement. It will impose counterproductive burdens on federal immigration enforcement agencies, and it will divert resources and attention from those people that the federal government has targeted as its top enforcement priority. • The Arizona law will result in detentions and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants, and citizens who either do not have, or do not carry, identification documents. • The law conflicts and interferes with longstanding federal laws which govern the registration, smuggling, and employment of undocumented immigrants. • S.B. 1070 altogether ignores humanitarian concerns, including protections under federal law for people who have a well-founded fear of future persecution (people seeking asylum) or people who have been the victim of a natural disaster. • The law has already interfered, and will continue to interfere, with vital foreign policy and national security interests by disrupting the United States' relationship with Mexico and other countries. • Although states may exercise their police power in ways that have an incidental or indirect effect on undocumented immigrants, and the federal government welcomes cooperative efforts by states to aid in the enforcement of national immigration laws, a state may not supplant federal immigration laws or enforce its laws in a way that interferes with the existing federal immigration scheme.

Primary Legal Bases for the Complaint:

• The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which provides that federal laws and treaties are "the supreme Law of the Land." • The Dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids certain state regulations attempting to discourage or otherwise restrict the movement of people between states.

For more information, see the United States’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Memorandum of Law in Support Thereof.

For more visit The Opportunity Agenda website.

Tags: immigration, DOJ, SB 1070, Opportunity, Arizona (all tags)


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