U.S. government takes Arizona to court to block SB-1070

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PHOENIX -- The federal government filed a lawsuit against Arizona over Senate Bill 1070, the controversial new anti-illegal-immigration law slated to take effect at the end of the month.

The announcement came just before 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

The argument is based on the idea that federal law trumps state law. Officials with the Justice Department believe enforcing immigration laws is federal responsibility, not a state one.

SB 1070, which has sparked controversy throughout the country, requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they might in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

The suit has been in the works for weeks.

Notice of the expected legal action came out last month. In a June 8 interview with an Ecuadorian television reporter, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "President Obama has spoken out against the law because he thinks that the federal government should be determining immigration policy...and the Justice Department, under his direction, will be bringing a lawsuit against the act."

At the time, a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to confirm whether the department would sue, saying only that "the department continues to review the law."

Opponents of the new law call it is unconstitutional, saying it will lead to racial profiling. they also say it's the federal government's responsibility to regulate immigration.

Brewer's staff says the law is constitutional, prohibits racial profiling and is a response to the federal government's failure to confront immigration woes.

Several local lawsuits have also been filed in an effort to block the law from taking effect. The first was filed by a Tucson police officer shortly after Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. Brewer has filed a motion to have that suit dismissed.