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Justice officials meet with Arizona officials on immigration law

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
  • Assistant AG Tony West and team brought federal reservations about law
  • Team met with state attorney general, aides to governor
  • Justice: No threats, no warnings about lawsuits

Washington (CNN) -- The Justice Department Friday dispatched an assistant attorney general and other key officials to meet with top Arizona officals to emphasize federal reservations about the state's recently-passed immigration law.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West headed a team that included U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and officials from the attorney general's staff to question the state attorney general and aides to Gov. Jan Brewer about implications of the law.

The federal officials met separately in Phoenix with Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat, and aides to Brewer, a Republican. Both have said they will defend the law against all legal challenges.

"We continue to have concerns that the law drives a wedge between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and are examining it to see what options are available to the federal government," said Justice spokeswoman Hannah August.

Justice Department officials said their representatives did not threaten or indicate to state officials any federal plans to file a lawsuit.

Nonetheless, Attorney General Eric Holder has left open that possibility. Holder, who was en route to Europe for meetings with his counterparts, has said he is particularly concerned about the potential for racial profiling when the law is implemented. He has also indicated that possible state pre-emption of the federal responsibility for controlling immigration is among issues being examined.

Holder met with police chiefs from several major cities at the Justice Department Wednesday to hear their concerns about the law's potential to damage relations between law enforcement officials and the Latino communities. Holder spokesman Matt Miller said the attorney general heard "their concerns about the impact of the Arizona law." The delegation did not include Arizona sheriffs or line police officers who have expressed support for the law.