Federal lawsuit 1 of 6 to challenge SB 1070

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The U.S. Justice Department looking to delay SB 1070 from taking effect on July 29th with a new lawsuit. In the end, the DOJ wants the immigration law struck down as unconstitutional.

Reaction to the lawsuit is generally split down political lines.

Since Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on April 23rd, five different plaintiffs filed lawsuits arguing that the immigration law was unconstitutional.  Tuesday's lawsuit by the department of justice makes lawsuit number six

"We're excited. I think it confirms everything that we said on behalf of Officer Escobar," says Tucson Attorney Richard Martinez.

Local attorney Richard Martinez represents Tucson police officer Martin Escobar, who filed a lawsuit against SB 1070 a week after governor brewer signed the bill, "There's a sense of relief that the federal government has entered into this just because, who has more credibility to say what the department of homeland security believes?"

Legal scholars at the University of Arizona agree that the Department of Justice lawsuit strengthens the case of Officer Escobar and the others who filed suit.  "I think it's much more likely that the law is going to be declared unconstitutional with the intervention of the United States," says UA Law Professor Gabriel Chin.

The controversial law that requires police to check people's immigration status is set to take effect July 29th, but Tuesday's lawsuit could prevent that from happening if the judge grants a preliminary injunction.

"They want SB 1070 to be halted. They don't want it to go into force. They say it's unconstitutional. It interferes with our authority and we want it stopped for the moment, and then after further proceedings, killed entirely,"  explains Professor Chin.

Congressman Raul Grijalva applauded the move and he had a message for people who felt the federal government shouldn't have gotten involved, "As much as you're fighting illegal immigration, you should not be supporting a law that violates the constitution."

Attorney Richard Martinez is eager for the legal process to play out, "The first hearing comes up in the 1070 cases next Thursday."

In the meantime, local police are still operating with the idea that SB 1070 will become law in three weeks.

Police chief Roberto Villasenor says it's not the police department's responsibility to enforce federal immigration law, especially with their limited resources thanks to city budget cuts. But that doesn't mean Chief Villasenor is happy about the lawsuit, "I'm not pleased with anything about this whole scenario. I think it's an ugly scenario. And I think it's brought out divisiveness and it's brought out animosities that we don't need to deal with at a time like this."

Tucson police will begin teaching officers how to implement SB 1070 later this week.