A proposed legal challenge to Arizona's new immigration law took a hit Monday when the Phoenix city attorney said Mayor Phil Gordon doesn't have the power to target the law without the support of the City Council.
Gordon was hoping to file a lawsuit to stop the law requiring local and state law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally.
After failing to gather enough support from City Council members, Gordon had claimed he could file a lawsuit without their approval.
But the legal opinion by City Attorney Gary Verburg said only the City Council has the power to authorize lawsuits.
"I just don't think we should be dragging the city of Phoenix and the taxpayers into this when they say they don't want us to file a lawsuit," said Sal DiCiccio, a City Council member who supports the law.
Gerardo Higginson, a spokesman for Gordon, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment late in the day.
Four lawsuits challenging the law were filed last week by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, a Washington-based researcher who plans to visit Arizona and two police officers, one from Phoenix and the other from Tucson.
The officers filed the lawsuit as individuals and weren't challenging the law on behalf of their employers.
Meanwhile, a delegation of local officials from Arizona planned to meet Tuesday in Washington, D.C., with a representative of he U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division to discuss the impact that law will have on the Latino community.
Arizonans who plan to attend include Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, state Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and the Rev. Saul Montiel of Epworth United Methodist Church in Phoenix.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal government may go to court to challenge the new law.
Eliseo Medina, international executive vice president at Service Employees International Union, said the Arizona delegation asked for the meeting to convey a sense of urgency about the need for legal action.
State lawmakers who pushed for the new law had cited the fatal shooting of a cattle rancher near the Arizona-Mexico as evidence that border security must be strengthened.
A law enforcement official said Monday that a man suspected of killing rancher Robert Krentz more than a month ago was a Mexican who was recently in the U.S.
The official said it's not known if the suspect was still in the U.S. and noted the person who killed rancher Robert Krentz more than a month ago wasn't believed to be a U.S. citizen. The official works for an agency that isn't leading the investigation and requested anonymity.
Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, which is leading the investigation, declined to confirm the account.
Krentz was on his all-terrain vehicle checking water lines and fencing when he was shot March 27 on his 35,000-acre ranch northeast of Douglas, Ariz. The wounded rancher managed to speed away before he lost consciousness and died.
At a congressional hearing last month, Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said the rancher was believed to have been killed by an illegal immigrant who was headed to Mexico and worked as a scout for drug smugglers.
Scouts generally serve as mountaintop lookouts for drug smugglers, instructing the drivers for smuggling rings to pull over and hide when authorities are nearby.
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