PHOENIX - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has responded after the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's tough new law targeting illegal immigrants.
The government filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the Phoenix U.S. District Court.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Brewer said that it was wrong that the federal government is suing the people of Arizona for helping to enforce federal immigration law.
"Today's filing is nothing more than a massive waste of taxpayer funds. These funds could be better used against the violent Mexican cartels than the people of Arizona," Brewer said.
Later Tuesday, the Justice Department indicated it would also file an injunction to delay the July 29 implementation of the new law.
The first hearing on the lawsuit is expected July 15.
"I hope that it doesn't happen," said Brewer. "I think that there is a movement not only afoot here in Arizona, but a movement throughout the United States of people wanting some action from the federal government."
The lawsuit argues that Arizona's new measure requiring state and local police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws usurps federal authority.
Tuesday's action has been expected for weeks. President Barack Obama has called the state law misguided. Supporters say it is a reasonable reaction to federal inaction on immigration.
The law requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if there's a reasonable suspicion that they are in the country illegally.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law in April, and it was set to go into effect July 29. The lawsuit could delay implementation of the law.
Arizona passed the law after years of frustration over problems associated with illegal immigration, including drug trafficking and violent kidnappings. The state is the biggest gateway into the U.S. for illegal immigrants, and is home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.
President Barack Obama addressed the Arizona law in a speech on immigration reform last week. He touched on one of the major concerns of federal officials, that other states were poised to follow Arizona by crafting their own immigration enforcement laws.
"As other states and localities go their own ways, we face the prospect that different rules for immigration will apply in different parts of the country," Obama said. "A patchwork of local immigration rules where we all know one clear national standard is needed."
The law makes it a state crime for legal immigrants to not carry their immigration documents and bans day laborers and people who seek their services from blocking traffic on streets.
U.S. Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain made the following statement regarding reports the Obama Administration’s will sue Arizona over the state’s new immigration law:
“It is far too premature for the Obama Administration to challenge the legality of this new law since it has not yet been enforced. Most legal experts believe such a “facial challenge” to the statute would be very difficult to win.
“Moreover, the American people must wonder whether the Obama Administration is really committed to securing the border when it sues a state that is simply trying to protect its people by enforcing immigration law.
“Attorney General Holder speaks of the ‘federal government’s responsibility’ to enforce immigration laws; but what are the people of Arizona left to do when the federal government fails in its responsibility?
“The Obama Administration has not done everything it can do to protect the people of Arizona from the violence and crime illegal immigration brings to our state. Until it does, the federal government should not be suing Arizona on the grounds that immigration enforcement is solely a federal responsibility.”
Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said she had "no doubt the DOJ will be on the winning side of history."
"SB 1070 is not only unconstitutional. It is dangerous. I am concerned about SB 1070's effect on public safety. In Maricopa County, we have already seen first-hand the consequences when our local law enforcement authorities take their eye off the ball and chase immigrants rather than serious criminals," said in a statement.
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who is a Democratic candidate for governor, said in a statement, "It is disappointing to see the federal government choosing to intervene in a state statute instead of working with Arizona to create sustainable solutions to the illegal immigration issue that our state and country so desperately need."
Tom Horne, Republican candidate for Arizona Attorney General, said in a statement that the suit "is proof that the Obama administration is more comfortable in court than actually protecting the border."
"One of the specific Constitutional obligations of the federal government is to protect the sovereignty of the U.S. border. S.B. 1070 requires local law enforcement