Arizona immigration bill further divides U.S. (2)

13:42, April 27, 2010      

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"Such broad immigration enforcement powers are not only unconstitutional, but will undermine community trust in law enforcement," he added.

"This law will do untold damage to the state's immigrant communities," said Titi Liu, executive director of the Asian Law Caucus. "Arizona's decision legalizes racial profiling by law enforcement and moves our entire country in the wrong direction."

Civil rights leaders held that the Arizona governor's actions would lead nationwide repercussions of fear and distrust in government. The state faces a current budget deficit of 3 billion dollars. Asians and Latinos wield significant economic power in Arizona, with about 37 billion dollars in consumer purchasing power. Their businesses also had sales and receipts of 12.2 billion dollars and employed nearly 65,000 people.

Under Arizona's law, local law enforcement officers will have the authority to ask about immigration status if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that a person is undocumented.

"It's extraordinarily vulnerable to a legal challenge," said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

Even U.S. President Barack Obama has directed administration officials to "closely monitor" the civil rights implications of the Arizona law.

Mayor Phil Gordon of Phoenix, capital of Arizona, signaled that he intended to pursue a lawsuit. The Justice Department also could try to intervene legally.

The U.S. Constitution and federal law trump state law. Article I of the Constitution specifically gives U.S. lawmakers authority to establish a "Uniform Rule of Naturalization" and to regulate commerce with other nations.

Legal experts speculate that certain immediate challenges to the law could result in a judge blocking the law from ever taking effect. Other challenges, such as those claiming racial profiling, may require enforcement of the law first to create a test case.

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