Clinton says Ariz. to be sued over immigration law, but Justice Dept. won't confirm plan

Thousands have rallied in Arizona this week to protest the state's uniquely strict new law cracking down on illegal immigrants.
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 18, 2010

The Obama administration has decided to sue Arizona over the state's controversial immigration law, according to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Justice Department declined Thursday to confirm such a plan.

In a June 8 interview with an Ecuadorean television station, Clinton said the department, under President Obama's direction, "will be bringing a lawsuit" over the measure. A video of the interview was distributed Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union, which urged the administration to go to court.

Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the department "continues to review the law'' and declined to comment further.

The Arizona legislation empowers police to question anyone who authorities have a "reasonable suspicion" is an illegal immigrant. The Justice Department has been considering for nearly two months whether to sue the state to stop the law from taking effect this summer.

Federal officials have given strong signals in recent weeks that a lawsuit is almost certain, and one official involved in reviewing the law said Thursday that "there is no reason to think" that Clinton's assertion was wrong. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because no decision has been announced.

Arizona officials have urged the administration not to file suit, and Gov. Jan Brewer (R) said in a statement Thursday: "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."

Staff writer Anne E. Kornblut contributed to this report.

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