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Posted: June 28, 2012 9:05 p.m.

States’ enforcement of illegal immigration

The Supreme Court partially struck down Arizona's immigration law yesterday.

The Court found that three provisions, which regulated alien registration, illegal aliens seeking employment and arrest of individuals based upon possible removability, were preempted by federal law.

But importantly, by an 8-0 vote, the court upheld the power of state law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of those who have been stopped or detained for a lawful purpose. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself.

These decisions come at a time when the immigration debate is heating up.

In this case, the Court recognized that the core of S.B. 1070, which requires officers to work collaboratively with the federal government to determine the immigration status of those who have been stopped or detained for a lawful purpose, need not be interpreted to conflict with federal law. With this decision, the Court has reaffirmed the important principle that, much as he might want to, President Barack Obama cannot prevent the states from taking action to enforce federal immigration laws just by saying that he doesn't want them to do so.

In 1996, as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, Congress made it clear that states retain inherent authority to cooperate in immigration enforcement and to supplement federal resources with their own. The federal government has the exclusive authority to determine who should be admitted into the country and who should be deported from the country. However, nothing in Arizona's immigration check provisions modifies the conditions under which somebody can legally enter or stay in the country.
Arizona and other border states bear the largest burden when immigration laws are not enforced federally or when rules are overlooked. And the burden is significant. There are 2,000 miles along the southwest border, 370 of which adjoin Arizona. Between 2006 and 2010, in the border town of Nogales alone, 51 drug smuggling tunnels were discovered. Home invasions and kidnappings are common in Arizona.

Illegal aliens take jobs from Americans and drive down wages. It is estimated that illegal aliens constitute 7.4 percent of the state's workforce. To address these problems, Arizona passed S.B. 1070, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. The Court's decision reaffirmed that the states are not without recourse to address such a systemic problem. States should not have to beg the federal government for permission to enforce laws within their borders.

But, hold on. There is more than one way to skin a cat and more than one way to sidestep a ruling of the Supreme Court or laws passed by Congress.

Yesterday, the Obama administration went a step further. After the Supreme Court upheld Arizona's right to contact federal agents concerning the legal status of those apprehended for other lawless activity, Obama summarily terminated the 287(g) program. The 287(g) program is a vital state-federal partnership created in 1996 in an effort to assist local law enforcement to deal with illegals apprehended in their jurisdictions. It has enjoyed bipartisan support and has served as the basis for any "comprehensive immigration" agreement dealing with border enforcement. Yet, with the flick of the wrist, Obama decided to terminate this act of Congress in order to punish Arizona and ensure that their immigration-related phone calls are ignored. And so law enforcement can contact ICE to transfer custody of an illegal alien but no one on the other end of the line is cooperating.

But fear not, they did set up a hotline for illegals to air their grievances about Arizona law enforcement officers. Welcome to Saul Alinsky's America.

One would think that many citizens would jump on this appalling disregard of our laws. Unlike the first administrative amnesty granted a few weeks ago, this one essentially grants amnesty to everyone - even those who came here from "a fault of their own." So why is there no response? Is it the polls? Well, ironically, Rasmussen published a poll a few hours before the SCOTUS decision showing that, by a 55-26 margin, Americans wanted the law to be upheld.

Decide what kind of America you want for your children and vote accordingly in November.

William Perugino is active in local and regional politics and can be reached at 3peruginos@bellsouth.net.

 

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