The U.S. Justice Department has challenged the constitutionality of a Misguided Immigration Law in Arizona, in a court of law. The immigration law requires people in the state to carry immigration documents at all times, and calls on the police to detain anyone - with "reasonable suspicion" - for evidence of legal status. The new law, which is scheduled to go into force at the end of this month, sparked protests from immigrants and immigrat rights advocates in the U.S. President Obama has criticized the law, branding it "misguided" and "unenforceable". Critics of the law argue that it would lead to civil rights violations and racial and ethnic profiling against Latinos in Arizona. This is the case because it is reasonably forseeable that under the law, Latinos in Arizona would be subject to unreasonable police stops and questioning. Mindful of the fact that Arizona is struggling to curb illegal immigration from Mexico, the residency status of many hispanics legally residing in the U.S. would be unduly questioned by the police - simply because they look like the many undocumented immigrants from Mexico. In a bid to stop this law from going into force on 29 July 2010, the U.S. Justice Department dragged Arizona to court on Tuesday - pleading for an injunction against the anti-immigration law.
The raison d'etre of the lawsuit is the fact that only the Federal government has the power to regulate immigration in the U.S. Lawyers for the Justice Department argue that the controversial immigration law in Arizona is unconstitutional - because under the U.S. Constitution, immigration law is under the jurisdiction of the federal government alone.
It goes without saying that the anti-immigration law in Arizona represents blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution, and its enactment would set an unwanted precedent - other states would be emboldened to overstep their authority, and make U.S. immigration law a state affair.
The U.S. is arguably the "land of the free" - but Arizona apparently seeks to change this assertion, by requiring free U.S. citizens and lawful residents to carry documents to proof citizenship or legal residency.
Besides violating the U.S. Constitution, the anti-immigration law is a beacon of racial and ethnic profiling. The law exposes Latinos in Arizona to unreasonable police controls - backed by "reasonable suspicion" that they are living in the U.S. illegally. This is the case because the law seeks to curb illegal immgration from Mexico, and punish illegal immigrants in the state - many of whom are Latinos. It is fair to say the law threatens the fundamental freedoms and civil rights of the many Latinos legally residing in the U.S., as well as the rights of many American citizens.
It is true, that Arizona is trying to protect its borders, and it is also true that the anti-immigration law endorses racial and ethnic profiling, and, in the words of President Barack Obama, "has the potential of violating the rights of innocent American citizens and legal residents...".
It is therefore good news that the Justice Department has dragged Arizona to court over the anti-immigration law. Time will tell whether the honorable court will grant an injunction against this controversial immigration law.
Read a statement from the U.S. Justice Department, here.
*Photo of Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building: Wikipedia.
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