American Elephants


Supreme Court Takes a Dim View of Obama’s Immigration Law Claim by The Elephant's Child

Arizona has had a major problem with illegal immigration, and the Obama administration’s reluctance to enforce immigration laws. So Arizona decided to enforce federal immigration laws themselves. They just wanted the Immigration laws on the books to be enforced.

The Arizona law requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally and check with federal officials to verify. They would also write new state penalties for illegal immigrants who try to apply for jobs.

The Obama administration sued, arguing that those provisions conflict with the federal government’s own role in setting immigration policy.The government argued that it’s fine when it’s on a limited basis, but having a state mandate for all of its law enforcement is essentially a method of trying to force the federal government to change its priorities. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said the federal government has limited resources and should have the right to determine the extent of calls it gets about possible illegal immigrants. These decisions have to be made at the national level. (I love the argument about limited resources).

The justices took a dim view of the administration’s claim that it can stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws.  They told the government lawyers that the state appears to want to push federal officials, not conflict with them.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” Chief Justice John Roberts said at one point.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a critic of the Arizona law, said that if the court does uphold the state’s law, he will introduce legislation to overturn that decision and grant the federal government sole control on immigration matters. That legislation would also overturn a 2011 Supreme Court case that upheld a separate Arizona law that requires all businesses in the state to check employees’ legal status using E-Verify, the federal government’s electronic verification system.

Illegal immigration looks a little different in Washington D.C. where Hispanic votes are especially important to those who divide the electorate into voting groups; and in Arizona where illegal immigration is rife and the drug war just across the border is killing citizens.

The decision will come down in June.


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