Obama administration widens challenges to state immigration laws
The Obama administration is escalating its crackdown on tough immigration laws, with lawyers reviewing four new state statutes to determine whether the federal government will take the extraordinary step of challenging the measures in court.
Justice Department attorneys have sued Arizona and Alabama, where a federal judge on Wednesday allowed key parts of that state’s immigration law to take effect but blocked other provisions. Federal lawyers are talking to Utah officials about a third possible lawsuit and are considering legal challenges in Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina, according to court documents and government officials.
The level of federal intervention is highly unusual, legal experts said, especially because civil rights groups already have sued most of those states. Typically, the government files briefs or seeks to intervene in other lawsuits filed against state statutes.
“I don’t recall any time in history that the Justice Department has so aggressively challenged state laws,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University Law School.
The legal skirmishing was triggered by last year’s Arizona law, which requires that police check immigration status if they stop someone while enforcing other laws. Amid a fierce national debate, a Justice Department lawsuit led federal courts to block that measure’s most contested provisions, but similar laws were approved in recent months in Alabama, Utah, Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina. At least 17 other states have considered such measures this year…