May 27, 2010

This is good news at this point.

As Digby says:

I suppose that's not all that comforting considering how flaccid the White House been about these matters. But still, I'll take it. At least there are some lawyers in the Obama Justice department who have some concerns about this. I'll take what I can get.

ABC News:

A team of Justice Department attorneys has written a recommendation challenging the Arizona immigration law.

The draft recommendation, part of an ongoing Justice Department review, concludes the Arizona legislature exceeded its authority in crafting a law that could impede federal responsibility for enforcing immigration laws.

Some department lawyers are also concerned that the law could lead to abuses based on race.

The review, however, is not yet complete and there are some within the Justice Department who challenge the recommendation's legal analysis. Sources tell ABC News that the ongoing review may take weeks more and that no formal recommendation has been sent to the White House.

The White House will have to give its stamp of approval for the Justice Department to challenge the law because this is a civil case.

The Arizona immigration law passed in late April is set to be implemented on July 29, barring any legal challenges. The controversial law that has attracted international attention and sparked protests around the country essentially gives Arizona law enforcement greater authority to look for and arrest illegal immigrants.

The bill would allow the police to question and arrest people without warrant if there is "reasonable suspicion" about their immigration status, and to charge undocumented citizens with "trespassing."

Meanwhile, back to Sanityville, ten police chiefs from around the country went to see AG Holder:

Ten police chiefs from cities across the country, including three from Arizona, traveled to Washington, DC today to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder and reiterate what they’ve been saying for weeks: Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law will make their jobs harder, erode working relationships built on mutual trust and cooperation between law enforcement and immigrants, and make communities less safe. The federal government should step in to prevent more states from following suit.

That message came through loud and clear during a news conference the chiefs held today. One after another they spoke of the challenges immigration enforcement laws such as Arizona’s present to police departments, including three police departments in Arizona – Phoenix, Tucson and Sahuarita – that are most likely to feel the effects first if the law goes into effect, as expected, on July 29.

“The primary job of local law enforcement is not immigration enforcement,” said Charlie Beck, Los Angeles’ police chief. “It is to protect the community from crime. The Arizona legislation does not do this. We now very well how to do our job and legislation like this inhibits us from doing our job.”

Like other city residents, he said, “Undocumented immigrants are witnesses to all kinds of crime. If people don’t come forward to report crimes, regardless of their immigration status, it really inhibits our jobs and threatens the work that we have done” establishing good working relationships with immigrant on

Opinion polls are always skewed when it comes to race, so it's no shock that there's more support for SB 1070 via the polls than are against.

This is a moral issue, first and foremost. But it's also a practical issue: After all, the ultimate outcome of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's obsessive enforcement of immigration laws in Maricopa County -- Arpaio provided the role model for SB1070 -- has been exactly what these police chiefs fear for their jurisdictions:

Although MCSO is adept at self-promotion and is an unquestionably “tough” law-enforcement agency, under its watch violent crime rates recently have soared, both in absolute terms and relative to other jurisdictions. It has diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration and in reducing crime generally, and to extensive trips by MCSO officials to Honduras for purposes that are nebulous at best. Profligate spending on those diversions helped produce a financial crisis in late 2007 that forced MCSO to curtail or reduce important law-enforcement functions.

In terms of support services, MCSO has allowed a huge backlog of outstanding warrants to accumulate, and has seriously disadvantaged local police departments by closing satellite booking facilities.

At some point, when they're inundated with a wave of crime unlike anything they saw before SB 1070, Arizonans will also realize they've cut off their noses to spite their faces.

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