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Justice Department sues Utah over state immigration law

By Terry Frieden
updated 7:00 PM EST, Tue November 22, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Holder: "It is clearly unconstitutional for a state to set its own immigration policy"
  • The suit follows ones against Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina
  • Action is being considered against Indiana and Georgia

Washington (CNN) -- Utah has become the fourth state sued by the Justice Department for passing an immigration law that federal officials claim is unconstitutional because it pre-empts federal enforcement of immigration.

The complaint filed in Salt Lake City is much like the ones filed in Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina.

The government said it will soon seek an injunction to prevent Utah from enforcing some provisions of its law.

"The federal government is the chief enforcer of immigration laws, and while we appreciate cooperation from states, which remains important, it is clearly unconstitutional for a state to set its own immigration policy," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a release. "A patchwork of immigration laws is not the answer."

Several states passed laws after concluding the federal government has failed to control illegal immigration across the Southwest border.

When the Justice Department sued South Carolina earlier this month, it warned it also had its eyes on Utah, Indiana and Georgia as possible targets for federal lawsuits.

The first three lawsuits are currently engaged in litigation that is expected to take at least several months.

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