Amid growing furor over Arizona's strict new immigration law, a number of civil organizations are preparing to sue the state, it was reported on Thursday.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Immigration Law Center are set to announce plans to challenge the law, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The key legal issue will be one that also was at the center of the court fight over Proposition 187 in California -- whether the state law interferes with the federal government's duty to handle immigration, lawyers on both sides were quoted as saying.
The law, signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Friday, makes it a state crime for illegal migrants to be in Arizona, requires police to check for evidence of legal status and bars people from hiring or soliciting work off the streets.
Attorneys haven't finalized a date when a court challenge would be filed, but said it would be before the law takes effect in midsummer, the paper said.
"The entire country has been galvanized," said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. "People within the legal community are trying to figure out what we can do ... We have seen an enormous amount of energy responding to this."
Attorneys who successfully challenged laws against illegal immigrants in California, Texas and elsewhere argue that the Arizona law faces a similar fate because of the federal/state issue. Immigrant advocates also argue that the law could violate guarantees of equal protection if selectively enforced against certain ethnic groups.
"The Arizona law is doomed to the dustbin of other unconstitutional efforts by local government to regulate immigration, which is a uniquely federal function," Peter Schey, a Los Angeles attorney, said in remarks published by the paper.
Schey had led successful challenges to the 1975 Texas law denying illegal migrant children free public schooling and the 1994 California initiative that would have barred public services to illegal migrants.
Schey said he also planned to file a separate lawsuit.
U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said earlier that he was considering a possible legal challenge to the law.
On Tuesday, Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee that the law could distract the agency from using its resources to go after serious criminals.