DOJ Lawyers Draft Challenge to AZ Law

Mike Levine, Fox News, May 25, 2010

A team of Justice Department attorneys reviewing the new immigration law in Arizona has recommended that the U.S. government challenge the state law in federal court, but the recommendation faces an uncertain future and tough scrutiny from others in the Justice Department, sources with knowledge of the process tell Fox News.

Staff attorneys within the Justice Department recently sent higher-ups the recommendation. At the same time, the Justice Department’s Civil Division, which oversees the majority of immigration enforcement issues for the department, has drafted a “civil complaint” that would be filed in federal court in Arizona, sources said.

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One source said the Arizona law has sparked a “huge battle” with national implications, and the Justice Department is therefore conducting a “slow analysis of all of the options.”

If Justice Department higher-ups decide to move forward with the civil complaint, concrete action likely would not take place for some time, according to the source, who predicted it will be “a while before anything would be filed.”

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If the Justice Department’s Civil Division decides against filing the complaint, others within the Justice Department could step in. In fact, the attorney general’s office, the deputy attorney general’s office and the Civil Rights Division are all reviewing options.

Holder told lawmakers that the Civil Rights Division will be monitoring the application of the Arizona law, set to go into effect in late July, and could take subsequent action.

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Holder said the Justice Department will also be looking at other issues, including “the history that is involved in all of this” and memos or opinions from other offices within the Justice Department.

Holder himself has raised concerns that the Arizona law could push a “wedge” between police officers and the communities they serve, something he’s expected to discuss during a meeting with police chiefs, including three from Arizona, at the Justice Department on Wednesday morning.

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Others have raised concerns that a 2002 memo from the Office of Legal Counsel could complicate federal challenges to the Arizona law, especially preemption-related challenges. The 2002 memo said state and local police can arrest illegall immigrants for violating federal law.

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