Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has been critical of Arizona’s new immigration law, said Thursday he hasn’t yet read the law and is going by what he’s read in newspapers or seen on television.
Mr. Holder is conducting a review of the law, at President Obama’s request, to see if the federal government should challenge it in court. He said he expects he will read the law by the time his staff briefs him on their conclusions.
“I’ve just expressed concerns on the basis of what I’ve heard about the law. But I’m not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is,” Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.
This weekend Mr. Holder told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that the Arizona law “has the possibility of leading to racial profiling.” He had earlier called the law’s passage “unfortunate,” and questioned whether the law was unconstitutional because it tried to assume powers that may be reserved for the federal government.
Rep. Ted Poe, who had questioned Mr. Holder about the law, wondered how he could have those opinions if he hadn’t yet read the legislation.
“It’s hard for me to understand how you would have concerns about something being unconstitutional if you haven’t even read the law,” the Texas Republican told the attorney general.
The Arizona law’s backers argue that it doesn’t go beyond what federal law already allows, and they say press reports have distorted the legislation. They point to provisions in the law that specifically rule out racial profiling as proof that it can be implemented without conflicting with civil rights.
But critics said giving police the power to stop those they suspect are in the country illegally is bound to lead to profiling.
Mr. Holder said he expects the Justice and Homeland Security departments will finish their review of the Arizona law soon.