The federal suit over Arizona's new immigration law was inevitable — and necessary.
Before other states jump in to further complicate immigration enforcement, it's crucial to be clear about who's in charge.
The federal government is responsible for setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws. The Constitution empowers Congress to establish a "uniform rule of naturalization," and that's been interpreted as authority to govern who can come into the U.S.
The understandable frustration of border states notwithstanding, adding a hodgepodge of state laws isn't workable and won't solve the United States' immigration problems.
Arizona's law requires police who stop individuals for legitimate reasons to also check their immigration status if there's a "reasonable suspicion" they might be in the country illegally. That provision has been decried as potentially leading to racial profiling.
The Justice Department's suit says U.S. citizens and legal residents could face "inquisitorial practices and police surveillance."
But the heart of the Justice Department's legal claim is the Constitution's power structure.
"The nation's immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations and humanitarian interests," the suit argues.
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