Administration challenges Alabama immigration law

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that Alabama’s new law takes local and state law enforcement efforts away from more dire security concerns, implying that by enforcing the law, the state made itself more vulnerable to attacks.

{mosads}“Legislation like this diverts critical law enforcement resources from the most serious threats to public safety and undermines the vital trust between local jurisdictions and the communities they serve,” said Napolitano in a statement.

“We continue to support comprehensive reform of our immigration system at the federal level because this challenge cannot be solved by a patchwork of inconsistent state laws.”

Attorney General Eric Holder pointed to the DOJ’s recent success in filing a lawsuit in Arizona after it passed a controversial law last year and said the agency would not hesitate to file more lawsuits against similar measures. A federal judge moved to block some of the law, including the provision that granted law enforcement the right to check a person’s immigration status when they are stopped for an unrelated reason.

“Today’s action makes clear that setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state immigration laws,” Holder said in a statement.

“The department is committed to evaluating each state immigration law and making decisions based on the facts and the law. To the extent we find state laws that interfere with the federal government’s enforcement of immigration law, we are prepared to bring suit, as we did in Arizona.”

President Obama has been pushing his immigration reform agenda more heavily this year, but with a Republican-controlled House and a large number of Republicans in the Senate, prospects for passing a comprehensive bill are slight.

In lieu of such a measure, the head of the Immigration Customs Enforcement issued a memo to agency staff earlier this year authorizing them to use their own discretion — and factors such as family, employment and schooling, as well as criminal records — when considering whether or not to deport someone in the country illegally.

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