Holder leaves open possibility of racial profiling lawsuit against Arizona

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder left open the possibility of filing an additional lawsuit against the state of Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

In an interview with CBS News host Bob Schieffer, the nation’s top law enforcement official explained that the United States may still challenge the Arizona law based on racial profiling.

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The Justice Department challenged the Arizona law on July 6 on the basis that it preempts the federal Constitution, not that it would result in racial profiling.

“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 in whether or not to see to whether or not there has been that racial profiling impact,” Holder said. “And if that was the case, we would have the tools and we would bring suit on that basis.”

But he said that federal law preemption stood the best chance of overturning Arizona’s new law set to take effect on July 29, which requires police to check the immigration status of individuals stopped.

“We have an immigration policy that takes into account a whole variety of things, international relations, national security concerns,” Holder said. “And it is the responsibility of the federal government, as opposed to states doing it on a patchwork basis, to decide exactly what it is our policy should be with regard to immigration. And it was on that basis that we filed the lawsuit.”

But supporters of the state law argue that the federal government isn’t enforcing current immigration laws, which leaves states with no other recourse besides codifying and enforcing those laws on a local basis.

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks (R) told CNN host Candy Crowley on Sunday his state acted because the federal government wasn’t enforcing laws already on the books.

“Essentially Arizona has just codified that in state law. And it’s ironic that, you know, with all of the arguments that this is somehow about racial profiling, I think the president of the United States has spoken knowing falsehoods about this bill, because the bill itself, in numerous cases, numerous places, outlaws racial profiling. And it’s just astonishing,” Franks said.

Crowley noted on her show that at least 17 states have similar laws in the works.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) told Crowley that the law has already had an effect internationally, noting that a meeting between U.S. and Mexico border state governors set to take place in Arizona was canceled due to a boycott by Mexican governors. The governors say the law is prejudicial.

“We have six Mexican border governors refusing to attend a yearly border conference with American border governors because of this incident, because of this issue in Arizona,” Richardson said. “So it is harming our foreign policy.”

White House senior adviser David Axelrod joined Richardson in calling for comprehensive immigration reform and blamed Republicans for inaction on the hot-button issue.

“The reality is that for the last time this debate occurred in the Senate, there were 11 Republicans who joined in, and, of course, President Bush helped to lead the effort. And most of those Republicans are not willing to move forward,” Axelrod told Crowley on “State of the Nation.”

Axelrod then called on “those folks on the other side of the aisle, who said in the past that they thought this was an important issue to solve, to join us.

“And when they are willing, then we will be able to move forward.”