Lawmaker Who Wrote Arizona Immigration Law Intervenes in Obama Administration Lawsuit

July 23, 2010 - 11:05 AM
The author of the Arizona immigration law filed a court motion to stop the federal government's effort to prevent the law from going into effect on July 29.
Joe Arpaio

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks at a news conference in Phoenix on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 regarding the U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against the state of Arizona’s new immigration law. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(CNSNews.com) – The author of the Arizona immigration law filed a court motion to stop the federal government’s effort to prevent the law from going into effect on July 29.
 
In April, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill to codify federal immigration law into state law. However, the Obama administration filed a lawsuit on July 6 calling the law unconstitutional, contending that only the federal government can enforce immigration rules.
 
That’s not the case, said Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, author of the law and chairman of the appropriations committee.
 
“As I’ve said all along, SB 1070 makes no new immigration law, it simply enforces the laws already on the books,” Pearce said in a statement Wednesday. “Barack Obama has put politics before the safety of citizens of Arizona who are under the gun from the illegal alien crisis in our state. I refuse to apologize for standing up for America and the rule of law. I hope the Court does not allow the Obama administration to run roughshod over the rule of law.”
 
The Arizona law states that violating federal immigration law is also a state crime. The law seeks to avoid racial profiling by only allowing police to ask about immigration status and legal identification if they come into “lawful contact” with someone, such as a traffic stop or after the commission of a crime.
 
The lawsuit against Arizona was filed by the Justice Department, the Homeland Security Department and the State Department in U.S. District Court in the District of Arizona.
 
The Justice Department requested a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the law, arguing that the law’s operation “will cause irreparable harm.”
 
“Arizona impermissibly seeks to regulate immigration by creating an Arizona-specific immigration policy that is expressly designed to rival or supplant that of the federal government,” the Justice Department injunction request says.
 
“As such, Arizona’s immigration policy exceeds a state’s role with respect to aliens, interferes with the federal government’s balanced administration of the immigration laws, and critically undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives. S.B. 1070 does not simply seek to provide legitimate support to the federal government’s immigration policy, but instead creates an unprecedented independent immigration scheme that exceeds constitutional boundaries,” the department said in its brief.
 
Attorney General Eric Holder, who testified to the House Judiciary Committee that he did not read the Arizona law, said in a statement after the lawsuit, “Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility. Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.”
 
Pearce’s move to stop the injunction, filed Tuesday by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch, which is representing him in the matter, states there is already precedent to allow localities to enforce federal law.
 
“The law of this circuit is clear. In 1983, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that nothing in federal law precludes a city from enforcing the criminal provisions of immigration law, Gonzalez v. City of Peoria, 722 F.2d 468, 476 (9th Cir. 1983),” the memorandum said.
 
“By enacting Senate Bill 1070, as amended by House Bill 2162 (“SB 1070”), the Arizona legislature simply codified already existing enforcement provisions of federal law that has been the law of the land in some regard for more than fifty years,” the court filing continued. “By seeking to enjoin Sections 1-6 of SB 1070 from taking effect, Plaintiff seeks to overturn 20 years of precedent. Plaintiff also asks that this court ignore Congress’ intentions that states and localities play a vital role in immigration enforcement efforts.”
 
Pearce was not available for an interview Wednesday, according to his staff.
 
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton called this case, “the most important piece of litigation that Judicial Watch has undertaken in its 16 year history.”
 
“The Obama Justice Department’s lawsuit has absolutely nothing to do with the rule of law,” Fitton said in a statement Wednesday. “The Obama White House is desperate to kill this law because the president knows if it is allowed to stand, other states will follow suit, and the federal government may finally have to do its job and secure the border. And securing the border is something President Obama is loath to do,”