Goddard Tells Justice Department He Will Defend Arizona Immigration Law

Goddard tells Justice Dept. he will defend Ariz. immigration law

By Casey Newton
The Arizona Republic, May 28, 2010

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said he asked U.S. Justice Department officials not to sue the state to block the implementation of Senate Bill 1070.

Goddard held a news conference Friday afternoon. He said Justice Department officials had asked for a meeting, in which he told them he would 'vigorously defend' Arizona's tough new immigration law. The Justice Department officials planned to meet with Gov. Jan Brewer later Friday.

Officials in the Obama Administration have urged the Justice Department to block SB 1070 from taking effect. Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Justice lawyers had drafted a legal challenge to the bill.

The lawsuit is expected to argue that the law infringes upon the federal government's right to regulate immigration enforcement.

Arizona's immigration law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It states that an officer engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest shall, when practicable, ask about a person's legal status when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally.

Brewer has hired a private attorney to represent her in multiple lawsuits challenging the constitutionality the law.

Goddard opposes the legislation because he doesn't believe that it will reduce border crime, among other things.

However, he said earlier this week that he plans to defend the state against lawsuits filed by other entities in federal court.

'I am counsel for the state. I am counsel for almost all of the state's boards and commissions, but I am not counsel for the governor by law,' Goddard said.