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Johanns Bill Aims To Protect Cities, States From Costly Lawsuits Over Local Immigration Laws

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Sen. Mike Johanns today introduced a bill that would make the federal government think twice before it sues states and cities over local immigration laws. The bill would require the federal government to reimburse a city, state, or municipality for any attorney fees or other court costs accrued if the Justice Department sues and the local law is upheld.

"My bill levels the playing field for states and communities that might otherwise be crushed financially by federal litigation," Johanns said. "The federal immigration lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by the Justice Department to use its vast resources to overwhelm local governments with lawyers and litigation. The bottom line is that we're in this situation because the federal government has neglected its responsibility to secure the border."

Background:

* President Obama himself has previously weighed in on the federal government preempting state laws:

o "Executive departments and agencies should be mindful that in our Federal system, the citizens of the several States have distinctive circumstances and values, and that in many instances it is appropriate for them to apply to themselves rules and principles that reflect these circumstances and values." [President Barack Obama, Memorandum For The Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies, 5/20/09]

o "It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and experimental experiments without risk to the rest of the country." [Memo to President Barack Obama]

* On July 6, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona, arguing that Arizona's new state immigration law violates the Supremacy Clause.

o The Department argues the federal government has sole authority over immigration enforcement.

* The Arizona law is set to go into effect on July 29.


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