Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Justice Department Going After Arizona

Think about it.....if President Obama directs the Justice Department (or they freelance) and files a lawsuit against Arizona, you know it will be said that the President cares more about slapping down Arizona for his constituents than protecting the borders. It will make no difference whether he wins or loses. By filing against Arizona, the President runs the risk that he looks "misguided” - that is the term the President used to describe the Arizona statute.

I believe our borders should be secured (now, not later) but may be in the minority in that I welcome a lawsuit so that a Federal Judge can set everyone straight. A lawsuit and a decision from a judge should put us on course to solve the problem rather than bicker. A judge's decision should end the bickering of whether the law is constitutional or not.

There is no question that the Federal Government has dropped the ball in handling our illegal immigration problem and I think this next round - a lawsuit - is painful but could move us forward. Right now the Federal Government is ineffective (which is what prompted Arizona to pass the statute, constitutional or not) and we need the Fed Government to be effective.

The lawsuit could be filed as early as Tuesday, will invoke for its main argument the legal doctrine of "preemption," which is based on the Constitution's supremacy clause and says that federal law trumps state statues, (A law established by a legislature). Justice Department officials believe that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility.

A federal lawsuit will dramatically escalate the legal and political battle over the Arizona law, which gives police the power to question anyone if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person is an illegal immigrant. The measure has drawn words of condemnation from President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder and opposition from civil rights groups. It also has prompted at least five other lawsuits. Arizona officials have urged the Obama administration not to sue.

Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton first revealed last month that the Justice Department intended to sue Arizona and department lawyers have been preparing their case. The filing is expected to include declarations from other U.S. agencies saying that the Arizona law would place a undue burden on their ability to enforce immigration laws nationwide, because Arizona police are expected to refer so many illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

The preemption doctrine has been established in Supreme Court decisions, and some legal experts have said such a federal argument likely would persuade a judge to declare the law unconstitutional.

But lawyers who helped draft the Arizona legislation have expressed doubt that a preemption argument would prevail. The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer(R) in April, is scheduled to take effect later this month.

Police guidelines underscore complexities of Arizona immigration law. A training video focuses on how officers can suspect someone of being in the country illegally without taking race into account. Some of the law's aspects defy explanation, even by state officials. Police officers enforcing a controversial new Arizona immigration law cannot use race to form a suspicion that someone is in the country illegally, but can rely on people's ability to speak English, their dress and whether they are in an area where illegal immigrants congregate, according to state guidelines released Thursday.

The 90-minute training DVD and accompanying paperwork will be distributed to 15,000 law enforcement officers statewide charged with enforcing the sweeping new law, which is scheduled to take effect July 29.

The law requires police to determine the status of people they stop who they suspect are in the country illegally, and makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration documents in Arizona.

Most of the video focuses on the thorny question of how officers can form a suspicion that someone is an illegal immigrant without taking race into account. Critics have said there is no way to do that without engaging in racial profiling. The guidelines warn officers that activists may try to lure them into stopping people solely based on their race.

"Without a doubt, we're going to be accused of racial profiling on this, no matter what we do," Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor, a vocal opponent of the law, says in the video. "Even if you're on firm ground, there are people out there who are not going to believe this is not racially motivated."

Lyle Mann, head of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, which produced the video, warns officers that "the entire country is waiting to see how Arizona, particularly Arizona law enforcement, responds."

The training materials, which do not have to be viewed by every officer, were required by Gov. Jan Brewer when she signed SB 1070 into law in April. She said the measure was needed to protect the state from drug violence spilling north from Mexico but that she would not let the law promote racial profiling.

Lydia Guzman, an immigrant rights activist who monitors potential racial profiling in Arizona, said the video is shorter than the training required to certify someone to apply acrylic nails.

"It teaches them how to avoid being accused of racial profiling," Guzman said in an interview. She contended that some of the factors that can raise suspicion would lead to Latinos being targeted.

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