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United States v. Arizona

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The United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in federal court against Arizona Senate Bill 1070. In their brief, the Department of Justice asserts that Senate Bill 1070 unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government's authority to set and enforce immigration policy.



In response to Arizona's passage of immigration reform, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a brief in federal court contesting the state's exercise of jurisdiction over immigration law. The complaint asserts that Arizona Senate Bill 1070 is preempted by federal law and therefore violated the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. The provisions of the bill  (as amended by House Bill 2162) authorizes state and local government agencies to detain those "reasonably suspected" of being an illegal alien and impose criminal sanctions defined by Arizona's statute.[1]

Under the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8 gives Congress the authority to establish uniform rules of naturalization. As prescribed under federal law, congress has complete authority over immigration and presidential power is limited to refugee policy. Federal laws regulating immigration and nationality is set forth in 8 U.S.C. Chapter 12.[2] After these laws are enacted,  federal regulations are issued by various government agencies to administer the law and apply it to daily circumstances. The Codes of Federal Regulations ("CFR") in regards to immigration are the following:

  1. Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations (Aliens and Nationality);
  2. Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations (immigration regulations administered by the Department of State); and
  3. Title 6, Code of Federal Regulations (immigration regulations administered by the Department of Homeland Security).[3]

The Department of Justice, in its brief, argues that Arizona has usurped its constitutional and statutory authority over immigration law thereby undermining its ability to capture and deport illegal immigrants that actually pose a danger to American society. On the contrary, Arizona government officials insist Senate Bill 1070 merely acts to buttress federal immigration legislation and address omissions in federal law.

Legal Developments

The attorney generals for nine states have filed a legal brief in support of Arizona's immigration law which will take effect on July 29, 2010. These states include Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and the Northern Marina Islands.[4]


  1. http://www.justice.gov/opa/documents/az-complaint.pdf
  2. http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Immigration
  3. http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=64929c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=64929c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD
  4. http://www.startribune.com/nation/98463874.html

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