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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In '07 Napolitano signed the toughest law aimed at businesses that employed undocumented workers.

Consider this: an Arizona governor signs a provocative piece of immigration legislation that critics say will lead to discrimination and trigger a hard-fought legal battle over states’ rights.

That was the scenario last month when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, set off a national firestorm by signing a bill instructing local police to enforce immigration laws. But it also happened in 2007 when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat who now is homeland security secretary, signed what she touted as the toughest law in the nation aimed at shutting down businesses that employ undocumented workers.

While President Barack Obama and his aides expressed outrage over the bill that Brewer signed and are publicly mulling over a Justice Department lawsuit to challenge it, the administration has been in no hurry to take a stand on the legislation approved by Napolitano, who is the president’s point person on immigration.

In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Obama administration for its views on the Arizona employer sanctions law on Nov. 2. So far, there’s been only silence. Now, any government response will get extra scrutiny, given the growing battle over immigration in Arizona.

“I just think the Obama administration is kind of floundering here, trying to figure out what to do,” said Jan Ting, a Temple University law professor who held a senior immigration post under President George H.W. Bush. “They’ve just got to be in agony.”

“It’s amazing timing,” said Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute. “This now puts tremendous pressure on them to write a different kind of a response than they would in the absence of this [new] law.” (Continues here)

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