WASHINGTON — The Justice Department hasn't ruled out filing a second lawsuit challenging Arizona's immigration law if evidence shows racial profiling at work, Attorney General Eric Holder says.
The Obama administration sued Arizona last week, arguing that the state is impinging on federal responsibilities for dealing with immigration. The state law requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if there's reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally. It also requires legal immigrants to carry their immigration documents.
The suit didn't deal with concerns about racial profiling so that it could focus on the most serious problem with the law, Holder said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." In six months or a year, his department might look into the law's impact on racial profiling, he said.
"If that was the case, we would have the tools and we would bring suit on that basis," Holder said.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who defends the state immigration law as constitutional, said she believes federal officials would have included racial profiling in the suit if they thought it was an issue.
"Why would they have to hesitate, after all the comments they made, and all the outrage that they made against the bill in regards to racial profiling, that it didn't show up?" Brewer told The Associated Press during a break in the National Governors Association meeting in Boston.
Brewer said she is confident that the state law can be enforced without racial profiling, which she acknowledged is against state and federal law.
"The bottom line is that people in the Southwest, particularly Arizona, we love our diversity. It's in our DNA. We are almost, I believe, colorblind," she said. "It's just not in us. We've grown up, we've lived next door, we work together, we eat together. I mean, it's so different than the issues they always want to relate to the South, you know, in regards to the civil rights issues down there."
Associated Press writer Glen Johnson in Boston contributed to this report.