The attorneys general of New York, California and nine other states filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing against Arizona's tough immigration law.

The Arizona measure, SB 1070, makes it a crime to be undocumented while in the state.

A federal district court blocked enforcement of the law's most controversial aspects pending a final resolution of legal challenges brought by the U.S. Justice Department and various organizations.

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An appellate court upheld the original injunction, prompting Arizona to appeal to the Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in the case on April 25.

"Although Arizona claims that the law merely assists the federal government in the enforcement of federal law, the Arizona law in fact implements a distinct state policy on removal that supplants federally mandated enforcement priorities and disregards the federal requirement that state assistance in this area proceed under federal oversight," the brief says.

"Overzealous and indiscriminate attempts to identify and remove undocumented immigrants also pose many risks for civil-rights violations - a risk that spills over to legal residents," according to the brief.

The brief is signed by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, New York's Eric T. Schneiderman and their counterparts from Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

California is home to the nation's largest number of undocumented immigrants, 2.5 million, according to a recent report by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The 11 state attorneys general express concerns that the kind of measures Arizona might use to enforce SB 1070 "threaten to sweep in many legal immigrants and U.S. citizens who simply share the same race, ethnicity, or cultural markers as undocumented immigrants common to a particular area."

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The signatories warn that "a patchwork of competing, inconsistent, and irreconcilable (state) removal policies would wholly undermine Congress's provision for nationwide federal direction and oversight" of immigration policy.

Supporters of the Arizona's bill argue the legislation is needed because the federal government has failed to address illegal immigration and has forced states to take matters into their own hands. 

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