WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to rule on a politically charged law in Arizona targeting illegal immigrants.
The immigration case stems from the Obama administration's furious legal fight against a patchwork of state laws aimed at stopping illegal immigration.
Arizona and other states say the federal government is not doing enough to address illegal immigration and that states on the border with Mexico, including Arizona, are suffering disproportionately.
The administration of President Barack Obama argues that regulating immigration is the job of the federal government, not states. Similar laws in Alabama, South Carolina and Utah also are facing administration lawsuits. Private groups are suing over immigration measures adopted in Georgia and Indiana.
Immigration has featured prominently in the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination and is likely to continue to be an important issue through the November election, when Obama seeks a second term.
The Obama administration in its first two years failed in several major efforts to change immigration law but ran into opposition with Republicans making clear that anything suggesting amnesty for those in the country illegally would be rejected.
The court now has three politically charged cases on its election-year calendar. The other two are Obama's health care overhaul and new electoral maps for Texas' legislature and congressional delegation.
In taking on the Arizona case Monday, the justices said they will review a federal appeals court ruling that blocked several tough provisions in the state's law. One of those requires that police, while enforcing other laws, question people's immigration status if officers suspect they are in the country illegally.
Arizona wants the justices to allow the state to begin enforcing measures that have been blocked by lower courts at the administration's request.
Many other state and local governments have taken steps aimed at reducing the effects of illegal immigration, the state says.
But the administration argues that the various legal challenges making their way through the system provide a reason to wait and see.