Eighty-one members of Congress are urging the federal court in Phoenix to deny a motion from the U.S. Department of Justice that would block Arizona's new immigration law.
In an amicus brief filed Tuesday in response to the DOJ suit filed against Arizona earlier this month, the Congressmen –together with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) – argued that Congress has complete power over immigration law and that Arizona's S.B.1070 "does not interfere with U.S. foreign policy goals as prescribed by Congress" as the federal government asserts.
"It is very clear that Arizona's law regulating immigration is both sound and constitutional," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, in a statement Wednesday. "What is equally clear is that the Obama Administration is overstepping its constitutional authority in its legal challenge of the Arizona law. Arizona has a constitutional right to regulate immigration in conformance with federal law."
Under the new law, which passed in April in takes effect Aug. 12, immigrants are required to carry their alien registration documents at all times, police officers are given the power to question someone's legal residency if they suspect the person to be an illegal immigrant, and officers are allowed to arrest someone if they cannot prove their legal residency.
The immigration law has drawn fire from several religious leaders who argue that it could be abused and sanction racial profiling. It also currently faces a lawsuit from the Justice Department, which contends that the state law unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government's authority to set and enforce immigration policy.
In his statement Wednesday, however, Sekulow alleged that the federal government's suit "represents nothing more than a constitutional overreach."
He also said the suit seeks to elevate the Executive Branch's discretionary power of enforcement "to trump mandatory aspects of laws passed by Congress enabling the states to act on matters of immigration enforcement."
"We're pleased so many members of Congress understand the separation of powers and exactly what's at stake here," said Sekulow.
The 81 members of the 111th Congress represented in the brief include Arizona Congressman Trent Franks and California Congressman Brian Bilbray, who assisted in generating Congressional participation in the brief.