WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, said Sunday he might sue Arizona a second time if he finds its tough-on-illegal-immigrants law leads to racial profiling.
Holder, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said the federal government’s lawsuit against Arizona, filed last week, makes scant mention of racial profiling because a stronger argument against the law is that it pre-empts the federal government’s responsibility in deciding immigration policies.
The law requires law enforcement officers with a suspicion a person is not a legal resident to ask questions and take the person into custody if the person cannot prove he or she is a legal resident.
The measure was to take effect July 29, but the legal challenge casts that in doubt.
Holder said the federal government has to take a variety of factors, including international relations and national security, into account when drawing up immigration laws.
“And it is the responsibility of the federal government, as opposed to states doing it on a patchwork basis,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean that if the law, for whatever reason, happened to go into effect that six months from now, a year from now, we might not look at the impact the law has had” and determine if there had been racial profiling, Holder said. “And if that was the case, we would have the tools and we would bring suit on that basis.”
Holder, in answer to a question, denied suing Arizona for political reasons so as to brand Republicans as “anti-immigrant” or “anti-Hispanic.”
“Not true at all,” he replied.
Holder said the basis for the suit was a legal determination the law was “inconsistent with the Constitution.”