UA professor says legal issues complex in Fed's suit against AZ - Tucson News Now

UA professor says legal issues complex in Fed's suit against AZ

By Barbara Grijalva - email

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer over the state's immigration enforcement law.

The 25-page brief details how the Justice Department believes S. B. 1070 interferes or conflicts with federal law.

It asks the court to block enforcement of the Arizona law and, ultimately, find it invalid.

We went over some of the details of the lawsuit with University of Arizona law professor, Marc Miller.

"The federal government has said now formally in its brief, we believe that S. B. 1070 interferes with federal law to control naturalization and immigration to control foreign affairs and to regulate commerce," Miller says.

That's the lawsuit in a nutshell.

The Justice Department argument in the suit reads: "The formulation of immigration policy and balancing of immigration enforcement priorities is a matter reserved for the federal government."

The suit lists federal statutes regarding immigration.

Then the Department of Justice argues, quote, "...because S. B. 1070 attempts to set state-specific immigration policy, it legislates in an area constitutionally reserved to the federal government..."

Miller says, "The gist of the core of this lawsuit is relatively simple. The underlying legal issues are quite complex."

Some supporters of S. B. 1070 have said it mirrors federal law.

The Department of Justice argues otherwise in several areas including this one.

The lawsuit says, quote, "S. B. 1070 pursues only one goal -- "attrition: -- and ignores the many other objectives that Congress has established for the federal immigration system." 

Which, Miller says, means, "The burden on undocumented aliens will be so great that they will not want to come to the state, that they will leave the state. What the federal brief says is that is not a description of the federal law or policy and because it conflicts with it, it cannot stand."

What now?

Miller expects the federal judge to delay the implementation of S. B. 1070 until all this is worked out.

"At some point, if this litigation continues, I would expect the U.S. Supreme court to hear it," Miller says.

Because this case is so important, Professor Miller says it's possible that, if it's asked, the U.S. Supreme Court could jump in at any time, and take the case.

With similar laws on the books in other parts of the country, critics of the lawsuit have asked why Arizona is getting sued.

Miller says those other laws are similar, but they are not the same as S. B. 1070.

The Justice Department lawsuit is very specific about all the elements of S. B. 1070 which, according to legal scholars, is unlike any other law.

"There is no other state that has a law which is as broad or encompassing or incorporates the same terms as this law. There are many terms in this law which are previously unknown--either state or federal law," Miller says.

He says that is one reason this is an incredibly complicated case.

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