Eric Holder’s Justice Department really seems to believe that its primary responsibility is to help aliens who violate federal law as opposed to tax-paying citizens of the United States. What else can one say about the latest action filed by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division against Arizona community colleges claiming they violated federal law when they asked noncitizens applying for jobs to produce their green cards? According to news reports, the complaint was filed with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an administrative office within the Justice Department that handles immigration cases.

Every employer has to fill out a federal form on all new employees, the I-9, which verifies that they are citizens or noncitizens who are legally in the United States and entitled to work. The I-9 form specifies what documents employers can ask for from prospective employees. They range from primary documents like passports and permanent resident alien cards to secondary documents like driver’s licenses, social security cards, and birth certificates.

As part of the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986, liberals insisted on the insertion of a provision that makes it a violation of federal law for an employer to demand any documents other than those listed in the I-9 form or “refusing to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine.” 8 U.S.C. § 1324b. There actually is an office within the Civil Rights Division called the “Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices” whose only job is to look for violations of this statute and other supposedly discriminatory practices against noncitizens. This provision puts employers in a confusing Catch-22 since they can be found in violation of federal law for hiring noncitizens yet they can also be found in violation of federal law for questioning the authenticity of documents presented by applicants like social security cards, probably the most easily and commonly forged identification documents issued by the federal government.

What is also completely unfair about this provision is that federal law requires noncitizens who are here legally to “at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration” issued by the federal government. 8 U.S.C. § 1304. So essentially, the Justice Department is suing these community colleges for asking job applicants who are not citizens to show them a federally-issued document that they are supposed to carry with them “at all times.”

The suit was filed at the direction of Thomas Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, who said that DOJ “is acting now to remedy this pattern or practice of discrimination.” Prior to his confirmation, Perez was the president of Casa de Maryland, an extreme Left-wing advocacy organization that opposes the enforcement of our immigration laws and encourages illegal aliens to evade federal law. So according to Perez, a “pattern or practice of discrimination” is for state authorities to ask a noncitizen to show them a federally-issued alien identification card that they must have in their possession when they are sitting across from the state official and filling out the paperwork required for a new job at a community college.

While Perez may have a technical basis for this lawsuit, this particular provision of federal law and how it is being interpreted is, quite frankly, ridiculous. It is a good example of the inane contradictions inherent in some aspects of our immigration law and this administration’s misplaced enforcement priorities. It also demonstrates the misuse of Justice Department resources, which are being used to attack Arizona in federal district court and now in a federal immigration court, while hundreds of thousands of outstanding deportation orders pending at Justice go unenforced and ignored. The administration’s abuse of its law enforcement powers to achieve political ends is both disturbing and very damaging to the best interests of the country.