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Clinton Hints at DOJ Suit Against Arizona Immigration Law
Posted By Channing Turner On June 18, 2010 @ 10:56 am In News | Comments Disabled
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments earlier this month indicating that the Department of Justice had decided to bring a lawsuit to block Arizona’s controversial immigration law set off a flurry of activity on Friday as the adminstration’s lawyers seemed to scramble to catch up to its chief foreign policy maker.
The episode began in a seemingly unscripted television interview in Ecuador on June 8, when Clinton disclosed the Obama administration’s legal plans, saying, “the Justice Department, under [President Obama’s] direction, will be bringing a lawsuit against the act.”
Clinton’s comments attracted little notice until Thursday when a video of Clinton’s statement was distributed by the American Civil Liberties Union, a proponent of court action against the law. News site the Right Scoop first reported  on the interview.
In response to Clinton’s remarks, spokesmen for the Justice Department and the White House declined to comment, saying that a review of the government’s position was still underway and that no decision had been made on the suit.
On Friday, The New York Times reported that despite the department’s assertions that the review was unfinished, the administration had decided to file the lawsuit and that only a few details remained to be worked out.
The administration has not announced an official position — though many federal officials have openly hinted at a lawsuit. Clinton’s comment was the first public statement by a senior official on the Justice Department’s plans.
The Times report said officials at several government agencies were being consulted over how best to challenge the law. The newspaper said that State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said Clinton was responding to deep unhappiness over the law that has been expressed in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Arizona officials have implored the administration not to sue. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer issued a statement Thursday saying: “If our own government intends to sue our state to prevent illegal immigration enforcement, the least it can do is inform us before it informs the citizens of another nation.”
Brewer traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak with the president about the law and Arizona’s situation. However, the president did not discuss whether the Justice Department would file suit against the state, reported  The Washington Post.
Arizona’s immigration law allows authorities to question individuals with “reasonable suspicion” they are in the country illegally. The law has received sharp criticism from the administration and federal officials since Brewer signed it April 23. Several cities have also initiated boycotts against Arizona over the bill, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Video of Clinton interview embedded below.
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