WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's administration intends to file a lawsuit against Arizona over the state's controversial new immigration law, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"President Obama has spoken out against the law because he thinks that the federal government should be determining immigration policy," Clinton said in a June 8 interview with Ecuadoran television channel NTN24.
"And the Justice Department, under his direction, will be bringing a lawsuit against the act," the chief US diplomat said.
The remarks passed largely unnoticed until the Washington Post said the American Civil Liberties Union, which has urged the Obama administration to take legal action, distributed a video of the interview.
Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman quoted by the Washington Post, said the department "continues to review the law" and declined to comment further.
When asked to comment on Clinton's remarks, a senior State Department official told reporters Friday on the condition of anonymity: "She didn't misspeak."
Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, told reporters: "The secretary's words stand for themselves. And again, I would just defer to the Department of Justice on what next steps are legally on this."
Earlier this month Roman Catholic bishops from the United States and Latin America slammed Arizona's tough new immigration law, saying it was "inhuman" and would promote racial profiling.
The law, which is set to take effect on July 29, makes it a crime to be in Arizona without proper immigration papers and requires local police, who are not federal agents responsible for immigration matters, to determine if people are in the country illegally.
© AFP 2013