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Dept. of Justice Suing to Stop New Alabama Immigration Law

The Department of Justice is suing the state of Alabama over a controversial immigration law that allows police to detain someone during a traffic stop if they believe that person is in the U.S. illegally - part of a new effort by states to crack down on immigration within their borders.

Shannon Bream spoke to Carol Swain, a law and political science professor at Vanderbilt University, and trial attorney Justin Leto on whether or not the law can hold up over time.

Leto said the states know that this law has no chance of standing up under federal scrutiny

and will be overturned - and he believes the law is a political attempt by the state's lawmakers to send a message to constituents that they are trying to crack down on immigration

Swain disagreed, saying that since 1976 the U.S. Supreme Court have given states the right to create some laws related to immigration and they are within their rights to pass legislation that would enhance the ability of the federal government to do its job, "especially where we have a situation where the government isn't doing its job."

Leto went on to cite what he finds most troublesome about the law, is that in an entrapment situation, the criminal burden shifts to the defendant to prove that. In addition, he says, the law makes a point that the educational system causes lawlessness among students, which he says is instead caused by restricting education.

He added that ultimately the law was enacted to overtake a federal mandate, and if people are dissatisfied they should reach out to their Congressmen, since this is not the job of the Alabama legislature. Swain argued that Congress has not been willing to address the issue and in the meantime, undocumented workers are overwhelming our systems - including entitlement programs. While Leto said he wouldn't deny that the federal government may not be actively pursuing an immigration strategy, that shouldn't encourage these laws which will incur frivolous lawsuits and are clearly preemptions of federal law and not legal.

Swain said the issue of preemption is not clear in a situation where there is a failure of leadership and institutions.

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