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It’s Time For Arizona to Sue the Federal Government

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Posted on July 8 2010 1:00 pm

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As expected, the ultra-progressive New York Times ran a lead editorial today entitled “The Constitution Trumps Arizona” in which it lauds the Obama administration’s legal challenge to the constitutionality of Arizona’s illegal immigration law.  

The editorial, like the Obama administration lawsuit itself, relies on the supremacy clause of the Constitution to argue that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration policy and enforcement, which preempts any state or local law in the same field. The alternative, they argue, would be a “patchwork of state and local immigration policies” that overburdens federal law enforcement officials, ignores federal humanitarian considerations and interferes with national foreign policy interests (citing recent friction with Mexico over the Arizona law as an example).

The problem with the underlying premise of this constitutional challenge, as I pointed out yesterday, is that Arizona’s law does not create any inconsistent immigration policy. It reinforces federal enforcement of existing federal immigration law. The fact that Arizona is trying to help the federal government do its job may disturb Mexico, but that is a byproduct of taking effective action to secure our borders – a responsibility that the federal government has all but abdicated.

The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the issue of state rights in this area back in 1976 in a case called De Canas v. Bica. In that case, the Court upheld state regulation related to the documentation of workers.  But this will not be the last word.

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