PHOENIX (AP) The Obama administration has sued Arizona to throw out the state’s toughest-in-the-nation immigration law and keep other states from copying it.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Phoenix on Tuesday, said the law, which is due to take effect July 29, usurps the federal government’s “pre-eminent authority” under the Constitution to regulate immigration.
The move sets the stage for a high-stakes legal clash over states’ rights at a time when politicians in some other states have indicated they want to follow Arizona’s lead.
The legal action represents a stern denunciation of the law, which the Justice Department declared will “cause the detention and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants and citizens who do not have or carry identification documents” while ignoring “humanitarian concerns” and harming diplomatic relations.
Supporters of the law said the lawsuit was unnecessary and blamed the federal government for neglecting problems at the border for years.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer called the complaint “a terribly bad decision” and defended the law as “reasonable and constitutional.”
Arizona passed the measure after years of frustration with illegal immigration, including drug trafficking, kidnappings and murders.
The state is the biggest gateway into the U.S. for illegal immigration, and it’s home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.
The law requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person’s immigration status if there’s reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.
It also requires legal immigrants to carry their immigration documents and bans day laborers and people who seek their services from blocking traffic on streets.
Other states have said they want to take similar action _ a scenario the government cited as a reason for bringing the lawsuit.