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Judge questions Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona immigration law

Arizona's controversial new immigration law has left one family in a frightened limbo, as they consider whether the mother should stay in Phoenix or try to leave without being arrested.

Kneedler, a widely respected appellate lawyer, urged the judges to uphold the injunction while the federal lawsuit proceeds. "This is an extraordinary state statute," he told the judges, saying that provisions such as the criminalization of failure to carry registration papers "are clearly preempted . . . it's a direct regulation of immigration."

Arizona's lawyer, John J. Bouma, defended the law's constitutionality and said Arizona passed it because of "a federal government that has been unable or unwilling to solve" the illegal immigration problem.

Civil rights groups have said the law targets Hispanics, but Bouma, a leading Phoenix lawyer, objected to that characterization. "Arizona has a long and proud tradition of a Hispanic population, and nobody is trying to take away from that,'' he said.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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