CNN is reporting that the Obama administration plans to file a legal challenge to Arizona's new "papers, please" legislation SB 1070 within a month.
The news channel cites an unnamed "senior administration official" as its source. The Justice Department itself will only go so far as to say it is still reviewing the law, which takes effect July 29.
This comes a day after a taped interview of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by an Ecuadorian journalist was released, wherein Clinton let drop that the Obama administration would be suing Arizona over SB 1070.
The legal action has been anticipated for weeks. Obama has referred to the law as "misguided," and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has stated that the DOJ was looking at the law, though he himself quite famously admitted that he hadn't read it yet.
Following a meeting with Governor Jan Brewer at the White House on June 3, President Obama again criticized the law to CNN's Larry King.
"Although I understand the frustration of the people of Arizona when it comes to the inflow of illegal immigrants," the President told King. "I don't think this is the right way to do it. I think this puts American citizens who look Hispanic or are Hispanic, potentially in an unfair situation. And more importantly, it also creates the prospect of 50 different laws in 50 different states when it comes to immigration."
The President's point about "50 different laws in 50 different states" is well-taken. The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized the federal government's authority regarding immigration matters, which is based in the U.S. Constitution. Even the nativist Center for Immigration Studies has argued on behalf of the feds' "plenary power" over immigration.
In a related development, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has just announced that he will withdraw from defending SB 1070 from various lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court over the matter.
On May 28, Goddard, a Democrat running for governor, announced that he had just met with DOJ lawyers concerning SB 1070, and he vowed to "vigorously defend" Arizona against a federal lawsuit if the DOJ sued.
Governor Brewer, a Republican and his likely rival, quickly announced that she didn't want Goddard's help, and that she would appoint her own lawyers and move to block Goddard. In fact, she's now set up a fund that's taking contributions to support the defense of SB 1070 in court.
Today, Goddard sent a letter to Brewer telling her that, "Your threatened legal action would be costly and is definitely not in the best interest of Arizona," and is withdrawing from the case.
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You can read the entire letter, here.
Weirdly, Goddard contends in the letter that he wants Arizona to prevail over legal challenges to SB 1070. In any case, his defense of the law would have been a thorn in the side of the Hispanic community and liberals. Goddard will need support from both groups in November.
Many Latino leaders I know have been grumbling about Goddard's previous promise of a "vigorous defense" of the law, but they were unwilling to blast Goddard in public or even in a quote.
Goddard's letter to Brewer today probably helps salve that wound, though Goddard remains on record as being willing to go to battle over SB 1070 with the feds.