Federal government sues Arizona over new immigration law

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by Sharon Rondeau

Arizona is the nation's 48th state

(Jul. 9, 2010) — The federal government has filed suit against the state of Arizona over its recently-passed but not-yet-enacted illegal immigration bill, SB 1070.  The law is scheduled to take effect on July 29, 2010 and states that “In order to successfully prosecute a violation of these statutes, the State must be able to prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The guidelines reveal that there are both a “citation,” or short-form “submittal” and a “long form,” similar to a birth certificate, for reporting the offense(s).   Incomplete forms will be returned to Law Enforcement, and citations suggesting any indication of  “racial profiling” will not be accepted.

The Department of Justice claims that Arizona’s new law “attempts to unconstitutionally supersede” the authority of the federal government.  Others have argued that the “supremacy clause” of the U.S. Constitution nullifies state laws which conflict with it.  Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution states:

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

A writer at the Tenth Amendment Center states that the words “which shall be made in Pursuance thereof” mean that all laws made by the states in pursuit of the principles laid out in the U.S. Constitution are also “supreme.”

The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Article IV, Section IV of the Constitution states:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Arizona’s Governor Janice Brewer called the federal lawsuit “outrageous.”  She spoke with Obama after receiving notification of it, but described her conversation with him as “disappointing.”  Brewer has claimed that “the state must act because the federal government has failed…Decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

On her campaign website on Tuesday, Brewer stated, “It is wrong that our own federal government is suing the people of Arizona for helping to enforce federal immigration law…Today’s filing is nothing more than a massive waste of taxpayer funds.  These funds could be better used against the violent Mexican cartels than the people of Arizona.”  Brewer’s videos on the subject can be viewed here.

Mike McWherter, a Democrat running for governor in Tennessee, has condemned the federal government’s action against Arizona.  Another Democrat from Arizona, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, called the lawsuit against her state “a sideshow.”

A legal defense fund has been started and has raised almost $500,000 to fight the government’s lawsuit.  The majority of the donations are reportedly from outside of Arizona.  Those wishing to contribute may do so here.

One news report admits that the federal government’s intent is not to deport all illegal aliens, but rather, “gang members” and other dangerous criminals.  It states that “Otherwise law-abiding immigrants without documentation would largely be left alone.”

The Arizona bill was signed into law on April 23, 2010, and can be read in its entirety here.

Part of the government’s argument against the new law is that “The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests.”

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