ABA files brief against Arizona immigration law

[JURIST] The American Bar Association (ABA) [official website] on Wednesday filed an amicus curiae brief [text, PDF] urging the federal district court in Arizona to block the enforcement of the state's controversial immigration law [JURIST news archive]. The brief was filed in support of a class-action lawsuit [JURIST report] led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona legislation. According to the brief, "the ABA has long opposed initiatives such as S.B. 1070, which, by their plain language, can only be implemented by intruding on the civil rights of both citizens and noncitizens." The ABA argues that the federal government should have exclusive power [press release] over immigration issues. In addition, the brief, which was filed in the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website], states that the law will increase the use of racial profiling, result in unlawful and unreasonable detentions and increase the burden on the state's indigent defense system. The ABA usually waits until a case reaches the appellate level to file an amicus curiae brief, but ABA President Carolyn Lamm [professional profile] said this case requires "extraordinary action:"

The Arizona immigration bill requires that police seek proof of a person's immigration status if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally. The law is set to go into effect in January 2011.

Last week, the Mexican government filed an amicus curiae brief [JURIST report] supporting the ACLU suit, claiming a substantial interest in ensuring its "bilateral diplomatic relations" with the US remain "transparent, consistent and reliable, and not frustrated by the actions of individual US states." The government also claims an interest in ensuring that its citizens are "accorded human and civil rights when present in the US in accordance with federal immigration law." Arizona's new immigration law has been widely criticized in regard to the law's constitutionality and alleged "legalization" of racial profiling, since it was signed into law [JURIST report] by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website] in April. In addition to the class action filed by the ACLU, Brewer is also currently facing federal lawsuits filed by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders and several Tuscon police officers, who claim they can not properly implement the law without racially profiling. The Obama administration, though supporting immigration reform, has sharply criticized the law [JURIST report], calling it "misguided" and expressing concern that it could be applied in a discriminatory fashion.

 

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