Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rich Lowry on the administration's obtuse move to sue Arizona

Readers know that my lovely wife and I live in Arizona. We applauded Governor Jan Brewer for having the political courage to sign SB 1070. Well over 70% of the nation supports the new Arizona law; 56% of people polled by Rasmussen disapprove of the Justice Department moving forward with this lawsuit. But as Rich Lowry observes over at National Review this lawsuit has everything to do with politics, and little to do with the law:

The legal case against the Arizona immigration law is unassailable.

The Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the law impermissibly “conflicts with federal law and enforcement priorities,” in the words of the ACLU suit. And who can disagree? Clearly, Arizona’s priority is to enforce the nation’s immigration laws; the federal government’s priority is to ignore them as much as possible. Case closed.

In his immigration speech last week, Pres. Barack Obama warned ominously of a “patchwork” of immigration laws arising as “states and localities go their own ways.” Oddly enough, sanctuary cities acting in open defiance of immigration laws have never notably been the object of his wrath. Who’s to judge the good-hearted people of Berkeley? There’s only one part of the dismaying patchwork that stirs Obama’s cabinet to outrage, and his attorney general to legal action — Arizona’s commitment to enforcement.

The legal fight between the federal government and Arizona will be a case of dueling insincere arguments. The federal government will pretend that it objects to Arizona’s supposedly creating a wholly new scheme of immigration regulation, when its real problem is that the state wants to take existing law too seriously.

Arizona will pretend that it is acting in accord with longstanding federal intent, when in fact its law never would have been necessary if the feds intended to enforce their own statutes. Instead, the federal government has adopted what the Justice Department calls — in a euphemism for the ages — “balanced administration of the immigration laws.”

The case against Arizona rests on “preemption,” the notion that federal law “occupies the field” on immigration and prevents states from passing their own regulations. In the context of the initial gusts of outrage at the Arizona law, this is a somewhat technical transgression. Couldn’t Eric Holder have nailed Arizona for its nascent Nazism?

Arizona has been here before. Pro-immigration groups sued over its workplace enforcement law passed in 2007. All the same arguments were mustered about federal preemption. A U.S. district-court judge (upheld by the appeals court) rejected them because the state law so closely tracked the federal law and didn’t contradict its stated purpose.

The drafters of the new law attempted to meet these same standards by directly drawing on federal statutes for its definition of immigration offenses. The courts have long upheld the right of states to make arrests for violations of federal immigration law, and the Supreme Court in a 1976 decision said federal immigration law didn’t intend “to preclude even harmonious state regulation.” Regardless, the courts will now decide.

The Obama administration hasn’t always been such a stickler for national uniformity. Last year, it reversed Bush-administration policy and stopped prosecuting violations of federal marijuana law by users and suppliers of medical marijuana in states that have legalized it. The upshot is that the direct violation of federal drug laws is acceptable at the state level, whereas the direct enforcement of federal immigration laws at the state level is not.

The animus toward Arizona is nakedly political. Obama, the former hopemonger, has become a moveable feast of cynicism. He promised that he’d move comprehensive immigration reform in his first year in office. This became known as la promesa de Obama in the Latino community, and it suffered the same ignominious fate as his pledges to enact a net spending cut and to comb through the federal budget line by line. La decepción de Obama.

According to Gallup, Obama’s approval rating has held steady this year among whites (41 percent) and blacks (91 percent). But it has dropped from 69 percent to 57 percent among Latinos. On cue, Obama gave an immigration speech touting comprehensive reform even though there’s no legislative path forward, and his attorney general sued Arizona. If the thoroughly political Holder thought it would help, he’d sue John Boehner.

And so the battle is joined, with the federal government making the plea — please, whatever you do, let our immigration laws molder on the books.

This is all about politics. Barry & Company want to push through their version of immigration reform which is hardly a reform. It will be much like the failed comprehensive immigration reform that was tried back in 2006 by Senators McCain and Kennedy. That reform was basically amnesty-lite; it would focus more on regularizing illegal aliens here now, and less on enforcement. Recall, if you will, the amnesty passed by President Reagan back in 1986, and the promise that went along with that mistake. The promise was that there would be tougher enforcement of America's immigration laws. After the amnesty was approved, the Congress seemingly forgot their promise to focus on border enforcement.

The issue of illegal immigration has been a political football played by both sides of the aisle. Republicans enjoy the cheap labor from the illegal aliens, and Democrats hope to cement them as a voting bloc. All the citizens of America have ever demanded is that we enforce the laws on the books. Neither side wants to do that, which has led Arizona to take these steps. We are not usurping the federal government's power to prosecute immigration laws. We are pushing them to do it.

Critics of the law claim that it is based on racial profiling. That is an outright lie. If you read the law, racial profiling is specifically prohibited. The police aren't allowed to go up to anyone, and demand to see their proof of citizenship or legal residency. The law outlines the steps that must be taken to even check on the immigration status of a person within the state's borders. First, there has to be an infraction; that is, the person in question has to have broken the law. The police will ask for identification (which they always do, and according to the law, anyone over the age of eighteen is REQUIRED to carry an ID on them at all times in public), and if the person they've stopped or approached lacks that identification then they're subject to arrest. THEN and only then may an officer check their immigration status. IF they have a legal, valid form of ID then the officer can't check on their status. End of story.

But the lawsuit doesn't address the assumption that this law will lead to racial profiling. No, it's based on the preemption argument; that Arizona is taking a power from the federal government, and undermining their immigration enforcement efforts. (OK, stop laughing. I know the federal government isn't doing that job, at least not as they should be.)Further reading of the law states that if the police do detain someone here illegally, that person is to be turned over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for processing. The moment we hand them over to ICE, it's then in the hands of the federal government. Is that usurping their power? No, it isn't. The new law seeks to reinforce the federal law. If you read the law you'll note that it sounds familiar; that it sounds very much like the federal law.

One can even say that the law is rather redundant. Local law enforcement have been allowed to deal with illegal immigrants for years, as empowered by the federal law. California has a law that is much tougher than our own, and instructs their law enforcement to work hand-in-hand with federal immigration officials to enforce the federal immigration laws. In fact, that law also exclusively outlaws "sanctuary cities" and California has more than a couple of those that flout the law on the books. No one threw a hissy fit when California passed that law back in the late 1990s. But God forbid Arizona do it.

This is an exercise in the absurd. The federal government basically has no leg to stand on. As Mr. Lowry notes, the Worker Sanctions law passed by Arizona back in 2006 was upheld in federal court because it mirrored the federal law closely, and it abides by the definition of the law. That is exactly how this is going to go. And this won't be over in a month, either. Some prognosticators (amateurs, for lack of a better term) claim that this will be all said and done by November. No, this will drag out for the next year, or so, and possibly longer depending on the appeals that will be filed at the end of this initial challenge. In the end, the Arizona law will be upheld because we're not usurping federal power. We're reinforcing it.

Publius II


Anonymous Benito said...

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

July 7, 2010 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger Ed Rasimus said...

Ahh, Benito, the convolutions of your language. Cloaked in patriotism and heritage you twist the rhetoric to make it sound truthful. We do not have a right to be treated as we wish to be treated. I wish to be treated like a prince, but that isn't my right.

Interestingly enough women and non-whites WERE given the right to vote and equal access by the enfranchised majority of the day.

We make laws. They reflect political process. Sometimes the laws are good and sometimes bad, but the remedy is repeal or amendment not ignoring or failing to enforce.

We promote the rights of all who wish to be free, but we don't necessarily couple that with admission to this nation without compliance with the existing laws.

If Arizona is wrong for assisting the federal government in enforcement of existing federal law then we open an entire field of litigation regarding what state and local law enforcement agencies must wilfully ignore in terms of law-breaking.

July 8, 2010 at 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Benito said...

“All Men are created equal”! The founders had it right, when attempting to form a perfect union and they also knew that they were not there yet but knew we one day would get there. Lincoln moved us forward as did JFK and LBJ. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

It is my contention that this AZ law is not constitutional and will fail when challenged (unless, of course, they keep adding more amendments), pretty funny for this so called perfect law, that many internet bloggers claim it was copied “Word for Word” from the Federal law, which I frankly do not believe, if it was then no amendments would have been made, right?, of course, keep those lies coming.

As for the undocumented workers, as was attributed to Ronald Reagan “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. When the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. This too will pass, the real problem is the narcos, arms and people smugglers and that’s what the focus should be on.

Don’t you find it funny that no one ever voted for Brewer for Governor, she is trying to get elected on the back of undocumented workers, it’s all about politics, do not be fooled. In the last few months Busy Brewer has passed S.B. 1070, no permit conceal weapons law, the famous Birthers law, banning Ethnic studies law, (could she be behind the Mural in Prescott, Arizona) and if history is a lesson and if she can read, she should look up Arizona’s House Bill 2779 from two years ago (which failed when legally challenged) and the craziest one the boycott of Martin Luther King Day, not wanting another holiday, how crazy is that. I believe there is an undercurrent to their enactment of new laws, they real love following a distinct pattern. Poor Brewer, in an attempt to gain sympathy, in an interview she first said her father had died in Germany fighting the Nazi in World War II (which ended 1945) and we find out her father was never in Germany and died in California in 1955 (watch her play the victim card, again) and then she went to Washington and came back empty as always, poor dear.

July 12, 2010 at 5:52 PM  

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