Republican Congressman Steve King says the U.S. Justice Department lawsuit that’s challenging Arizona’s law will have a chilling effect in other states.

“I would like to have seen the states whose legislatures are convened now and those that are about to convene move forward and bring their own immigration acts…In Iowa, I think we ought to take a look at the Arizona immigration law and bring forward legislation that works for Iowa and we can use that as a model to start with,” King says. “I’d like to see that happen in every state that has an immigration problem and I think every state has an immigration problem.”

King has long been a critic of what he calls “amnesty” for illegal immigrants, a process that would let them pay a fine and then get in line for U.S. citizenship. King says he’s worried that package will again be considered in congress, despite its failure in 2007.

“Now, having filed the suit, I think it gives a little advantage to the ‘open borders’ crowd,” King says.

The U.S. Justice Department filed its lawsuit Tuesday, charging Arizona’s law hampers the federal government’s authority to enforce immigration policy. King says in his opinion, there is nothing unconstitutional about Arizona’s law. “Arizona law is written as a mirror of federal law.  It sits underneath federal law. It doesn’t stretch the limits or the bounds of federal law,” King says.  “So I don’t think the preemption argument can stand.” 

The federal government’s lawyers argue federal law “preempts” state laws on immigration, and they say a patchwork of different state laws on immigration will lead to chaos in terms of enforcement. That’s the same kind of legal argument made in Iowa when King was in the state senate and he favored a statewide standard for livestock operations rather than a patchwork of rules in different counties. The Iowa Supreme Court tossed out a series of county ordinances that restricted where feedlots and livestock confinements could be built.

“I would say there’s a preemption argument there, but it’s not one that goes back to the (state) constitution,” King says.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that “both forms of preemption find their source in the (state) constitution’s prohibition of the exercise of a home rule power ‘inconsistent with the laws of the general assembly.'” 

King made his comments today during an interview with Radio Iowa.