Officials in the Obama administration are urging the extraordinary step of suing Arizona over its new immigration law, and the Justice Department is considering such an action to block the legislation from taking effect, reports the Washington Post. The Arizona law criminalizes illegal immigration by defining it as trespassing and empowers police to question anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” is an illegal immigrant. President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have blasted the legislation, with Obama saying that it “threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness.”
A key legal ground being considered is the doctrine of “preemption” — arguing that the state’s law illegally intrudes on immigration enforcement, which is a federal responsibility. The White House probably will make the final call, given that the issue is fraught with legal and political implications. The law will not take effect until summer, 90 days after the Arizona legislature adjourns. But the Justice Department could be in court by early to mid-May. The prospect of federal lawyers challenging a state law would be unusual, legal specialists said. Typically, the government files briefs or seeks to intervene in lawsuits filed by others against state statutes.