More Than Half of Americans Oppose Anticipated Justice Dept. Challenge to Arizona Immigration Law

By Nick Dean | June 22, 2010 | 8:57 AM EDT

(— Fifty-six percent of Americans oppose an anticipated federal government challenge to the immigration law recently passed in Arizona, according to a recent Rasmussen Report.
Set to take effect in July, the new law allows police officers to question a person’s immigration status during a “lawful stop” if an officer has “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country illegally.  "Race, color or national origin" alone do not constitute reasonable suspicion. The state law mirrors federal law.
Rasmussen’s national telephone survey asked 1,000 voters: Should the U.S. Justice Department challenge the legality of Arizona’s new immigration law in federal court?
Fifty-six percent opposed a legal challenge to the new law while 26 percent of Americans supported such a lawsuit against Arizona and 18 percent were undecided.
The poll was conducted on May 26-27, before the Justice Department or White House confirmed plans to move forward with a lawsuit against Arizona.
However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a television interviewer in Ecuador on June 8 that the Justice Department “will be bringing a lawsuit against this act.”
“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,” Clinton told the Ecuadorian television station.
A senior White House official, quoted by CBS News, confirmed Friday that the “federal government will indeed formally challenge the law when Justice Department lawyers are finished building the case.”
On May 19, Obama said the new Arizona law is a “misdirected effort” and a “misdirected expression of frustration over (America’s) broken immigration system.” He made the comments during a joint press conference at the White House with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
According to another poll from Rasmussen, 71 percent of Arizona residents favor the new immigration law and 58 percent of all Americans favor the passage of similar laws in their states.
In recent weeks, Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has filed motions to dismiss various lawsuits challenging the new law.
“This is no way to treat the people of Arizona,” Brewer said in a press release responding to Clinton’s June 8 comment. “To learn of this lawsuit through an Ecuadorean interview with the Secretary of State is just outrageous. If our own government intends to sue our state to prevent illegal immigration enforcement, the least it can do is inform us before it informs the citizens of another nation.”
The Rasmussen poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.