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AP article: Enforcement at heart of Ariz. immigration lawsuit

From the Associate Press:

Enforcement at heart of Ariz. immigration lawsuit
By BOB CHRISTIE (AP)

Hispanic community members, some from Phoenix, hold hands in prayer to protest against SB1070, Arizona's immigration law, during a vigil in front of the White House in Washington Wednesday, July 7, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

PHOENIX — On paper, Arizona’s controversial new immigration law is not that different from the federal version.
But the key difference is this: Arizona wants every illegal immigrant caught and deported. The federal government says treating all 11 million of the nation’s illegal immigrants as criminals would overwhelm the system.
In its lawsuit challenging the Arizona law, the Justice Department says its policy is to focus on dangerous immigrants: gang members, drug traffickers, threats to national security. Otherwise law-abiding immigrants without documentation would largely be left alone.
Homeland Security officials say the government cannot possibly find, arrest and deport everyone who is here illegally. And trying to do so would also upset a balance crafted by Congress that takes into account humanitarian interests and foreign relations.
But proponents of the Arizona solution insist that’s no reason not to try. And they say the state’s toughest-in-the-nation law is a reasonable way to start.
“If it’s really the case that they don’t have enough resources to enforce the laws that Congress has passed, it would seem it’s incumbent on them to go back to Congress and ask for more resources,” said Steven Camarota, research director at the center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors stricter enforcement of immigration laws. “But since they don’t do that, it sort of undermines the argument.”
Arizona’s new law is nearly identical to federal immigration law. At issue is how it is enforced. The federal government says the state law is unconstitutional because it usurps federal authority to protect U.S. borders and American citizens. Arizona counters that the federal government is not doing its job, which forces state officials to step in.
State lawmakers argue that the federal government already enlists local authorities to identify illegal immigrants who have been arrested for other crimes. The new law, they say, just extends that to police patrols.
The federal government says the law goes too far by making it a state crime to be in Arizona illegally and requiring police to question the immigration status of anyone they encounter who is believed to be undocumented.
The furor over the Arizona law is overblown, Camarota said Wednesday. It does not envision mass deportations or roundups, just a slow but steady pressure on illegal immigrants to leave Arizona — either for their home countries or for another state.
The number of illegal immigrants in the country fell for the first time this decade in 2007, and dropped another 800,000 between 2008 and 2009, primarily due to the recession and increased enforcement efforts.
As of January 2009, an estimated 10.8 million people were in the country illegally, 1 million less than the 2007 peak, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Deportations have been increasing, climbing from 185,944 in 2007 to 387,790 last year.
Many critics argue the federal government cannot selectively enforce immigration law, but it’s common for law enforcement at all levels to prioritize. Small-time pot dealers do not receive the same level of investigation or prosecution as big-time heroin traffickers. The government has also tolerated medical marijuana in 14 states.
But Arizona’s law has brought selective enforcement — and the differences that exist even among police agencies — into clearer focus.
Those differences are stark, even in the Phoenix metro area. Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris says in an affidavit supporting the federal suit that he will probably have to move detectives focused on violent crime to street patrol because regular officers will be busy enforcing Arizona’s new law.
But Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been at the forefront of the effort to empower local authorities to enforce immigration laws, routinely assigns deputies to crime sweeps where they target illegal immigrants.
The federal government is worried that other states will follow Arizona’s lead, overwhelming federal agencies with non-criminal illegal immigrants who will cost the government millions to deport.
A March study by the liberal Center for American Progress estimated that deporting the entire illegal immigration population and securing the borders would cost $285 billion over five years.
In the government lawsuit, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection declared they will be forced to shift resources from major cases to minor ones if the law goes into effect as scheduled on July 29.
The government wants a federal judge hearing the lawsuit and five others filed over the law to grant an injunction blocking the measure from taking effect. At a hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said she intended to take whatever time is needed to make a sound legal decision, suggesting there’s no guarantee she’ll rule on a possible injunction before July 29.
The federal lawsuit focuses on a core constitutional concern — balancing power between the states and the federal government. More specifically, the issue centers on the long-running “pre-emption” legal argument that says federal law trumps state law.

The government sidestepped concerns about the potential for racial profiling and civil rights violations most often raised by immigration advocates. Experts said those are weaker arguments that do not belong in a federal legal challenge.

LUPE: Dept of Justice challenges SB1070

LUPE: Dept of Justice challenges SB1070

A quick update to let everyone know that the Obama administration officially filed suit against SB1070. The suit is the best evidence that our immigration system is broken and must be fixed with comprehensive immigration reform that is just and fair.

From Promise Arizona:

The Obama Administration just filed suit against the state of Arizona for its racially charged SB1070 law, the most anti-immigrant and anti-civil rights law in the country. The law provides local law enforcement the power to question people who simply look “illegal,” a clear violation of civil liberties. The law goes into effect on July 29th.

Please sign the petition to thank President Obama and the Department of Justice for suing Arizona to stop this law, and urge him to keep up the pressure and follow through on their injunction to prevent the law from going into effect on July 29th until this lawsuit and the American people have had their day in federal court, as well as continue pushing for a real solution – comprehensive immigration reform.

Please sign the petition thanking Obama and urging him to follow through on an injunction to keep the law from going into effect.

Remember to celebrate this victory now while the nation gears up for days of action an civil disobedience on July 29th.

http://promiseaz.org/2010/07/08/espanol-la-cronica-brewer-cancela-reunion-de-gobernadores-fronterizos-programada-para-fin-de-ano/

Brewer cancela reunión de gobernadores fronterizos programada para fin de año

FE. Líderes religiosos y miembros de Promesa Arizona (PAZ, siglas en inglés), organización fundada para luchar contra la Ley SB 1070 del estado de Arizona , rezan durante una vigilia de 26 horas frente a la Casa Blanca. Foto: EFE

La gobernadora Jan Brewer canceló ayer la reunión anual de los gobernadores de 10 estados de México y Estados Unidos, programada para fin de año en Arizona. Los seis mandatarios de los estados fronterizos de México estaban renuentes a asistir debido a que se oponen a la nueva ley de Arizona para controlar la inmigración ilegal.

La gobernadora indicó el miércoles que está decepcionada por el boicot contra Arizona por la ley, y expresó la esperanza de que los gobernadores de Nuevo México, Texas y California apoyen su decisión.

Los gobernadores de Nuevo México y California dicen tener la intención de realizar la reunión en otro estado, con o sin la participación de Arizona.

La nueva ley de ese estado requiere que la policía, cuando haga cumplir otras leyes, interrogue a una persona sobre su estatus de inmigración si existen sospechas de que está en el país ilegalmente.

Obama se defiende. Por otro lado, la Casa Blanca rechazó ayer que la demanda contra la Ley de Migración de Arizona haya tenido algún tipo de motivación política, como sugirieron legisladores republicanos.

“El presidente no ha hecho una determinación sobre migración basado en lo que es popular, y el Departamento de Justicia no presentó esta demanda basado en lo que es popular, sino en lo que es correcto”, dijo el portavoz Robert Gibbs.

El vocero presidencial insistió en que el presidente Barack Obama se ha mantenido firme en la necesidad de “tener una amplia reforma migratoria, y no creo que sólo los latinos mantienen ese punto de vista”.

Gibbs dijo que la demanda fue consecuencia del hecho de que la ley de Arizona invade una responsabilidad exclusiva del gobierno federal, “y no podemos tener un remedo de leyes estatales”.

“La única manera en que vamos a resolver esto es a través de una amplia reforma migratoria”, apuntó el vocero presidencial durante su habitual conferencia de prensa.

La demanda fue repudiada por legisladores republicanos, quienes acusaron a Obama de ignorar la situación que enfrentan estados como Arizona frente a la migración ilegal y la voluntad de los estadunidenses.

“Los estadunidenses deben preguntarse si la administración Obama está realmente comprometida en asegurar la frontera cuando demanda a un estado que está tratando sólo de proteger a su gente”, indicó el martes un grupo de 20 legisladores en una carta al procurador general Erick Holder.

Gibbs desestimó la misiva y dijo que los republicanos harían una mejor causa si se sentaran con los demócratas en el Congreso a negociar una reforma migratoria que resuelva este problema.