Arizona Needs Homeland Security's OK to Deport

Amid the outrage about Arizona's strict new immigration law—which calls for the pursuit, arrest, and deportation of illegal aliens—a pivotal question remains: how will the Obama administration respond? Only the feds can deport a person, which means that Arizona will need Department of Homeland Security cooperation to carry out local law. But don't bet on the state getting it. A DHS spokesperson says the issue is under "review." But two administration officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal DHS matters, tell NEWSWEEK the department has already signaled to Arizona police that it will most likely detain and deport only violent criminals. Everyone else will get a written notice requesting that they appear for a future hearing—warnings that some immigration officers call "run letters" because recipients so rarely show up. Still, it's not clear that this tack will deter similar bills in other states: Republicans in Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma signaled last week that they might follow Arizona's lead.

Critics say the catch-and-release approach could have severe political consequences: if an alien freed by the feds subsequently commits a terrible crime, Obama's opponents will replay the "Willie Horton" tactics used to sink Michael Dukakis. But the president has time on his side: with civil-rights groups lining up to sue Arizona, the law could be bogged down in court for years to come.

Arizona Needs Homeland Security's OK to Deport | U.S.