WASHINGTON– Today the Justice Department filed suit against Arizona, asserting that the state’s new immigration law violates the Constitution’s supremacy clause and illegally intrudes on the federal government’s power to enforce our immigration laws.
The announcement comes after the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and Asian American Justice Center– both members of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice– joined other major civil rights groups to represent a diverse group of plaintiffs challenging the law’s constitutionality. That suit, filed in May, asserts that Arizona’s law is not only preempted by federal law, but that it also violates other provisions of the U.S. Constitution, including the right to free speech, equal protection, and due process.
Only a few days ago in a national address on comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama called Arizona’s law “misguided.” Arizona’s law represents an unchecked government intervention that violates the constitutional rights of every American, undermines law enforcement’s ability to fight crime, and discriminates against citizens based on ethnicity.
“We salute the Department of Justice for taking this needed action,” remarked Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of APALC. “We cannot have a patchwork of state-based immigration laws; and no state should be put into the position of having to fulfill a federal responsibility. Arizona’s law was the wrong approach and this lawsuit should help engineer a national course correction.”
Since Arizona acted, more than 30 municipalities have passed resolutions condemning the law or joined a national boycott of the state or instituted travel bans, while similar laws have been introduced in others.
“Rather than inflame ethnic tension and pander to nativist sentiment, state and local elected officials and political leaders should push their members of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of AAJC. “We need more workable and humane immigration policies, not divisive laws that invite discrimination and inevitably result in racial profiling.”