July 15, 2010
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Arizona's strict new immigration law Wednesday.
The Obama administration has challenged the new law in federal court in Arizona. The law, which takes effect July 29, directs police enforcing other laws to ask about a suspect's immigration status if there is reason to believe the person is in this country illegally. It also makes it a crime for legal immigrants not to carry their immigration documents.
The federal government claims the law intrudes on its immigration enforcement authority. Opponents of the Arizona statute also say it would lead to racial profiling. The federal government's lawsuit is one of seven that have been filed challenging the law.
Virginia is one of nine states siding with Arizona in the court papers filed Tuesday. They claim states have authority to help enforce federal immigration laws, especially considering what they say is lax enforcement by the federal government.
"While much of border enforcement is left to the federal government, federal law expressly allows states to arrest people who are not legally present in the United States," Cuccinelli said. "Arizona's law doesn't change any of this. That's why we are stunned that the government has sued Arizona."
This is not the first time Cuccinelli has clashed with the federal government since taking office in January. He also has gone to court over the administration's health care reform bill and the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of greenhouse gases.
Joining Virginia in the brief supporting Arizona are Michigan, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Nebraska and South Dakota.