The Obama administration could file yet another lawsuit against Arizona if it decides racial profiling is taking place under that state’s new immigration law, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said.
Mr. Holder’s Justice Department sued Tuesday to block the law, arguing that it infringed on the federal government’s right to determine immigration policy. But the suit made almost no mention of racial profiling — a key issue in President Obama’s attacks against the law in the weeks before the suit was filed.
The attorney general, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival last week in an interview aired on CBS on Sunday, said the pre-emption argument was the stronger attack against the law. But he said if the law does go into effect despite the suit, the Justice Department will watch and see whether profiling is taking place.
“If that was the case, we would have the tools, and we would bring suit on that basis,” he said.
Mr. Holder in May came under fire after he admitted to a Senate committee he had not read the law, despite having publicly criticized it and arguing it would lead to racial profiling.
Immigration has been a flashpoint issue for years, and Arizona’s law only has fanned the flames.
The law, which is slated to take effect July 29 unless a judge blocks it, would require police to check the legal status of anyone whom they suspect of being in the country illegally while they enforce other laws already on the books. It says race may not be used as a factor in determining who should be questioned, but opponents, including Mr. Obama, say they fear it will lead to racial profiling nonetheless.
The Justice Department lawsuit is the sixth to be filed against the law.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said last week the government is being hypocritical in singling out Arizona for enacting a policy when there are dozens of so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to report illegal immigrants — which also potentially conflicts with federal law.