New Challenge to AZ enforcement law: it's a usurpation of federal role

Another challenge to Arizona’s enforcement law has been laid down, this time directly addressing the notion that immigrations law and enforcement are duties that fall to the federal government and not the states.

In their 44 page filing, the plaintiffs call the law an “unprecedented attempt by a single state to regulate immigration” and “a brazen and improper usurpation of the federal government’s constitutional role in immigration regulation.” Of greater importance to their injunction request, the groups argue the law, if it takes effect on July 29, will cause irreparable harm and will immediately cause their members to change their lives “out of fear that they will be subject to unlawful questioning, arrest, or detention.”

I would contend that it’s “unprecedented” because the states were waiting for the federal government to step up to their duties and it has failed miserably to do so. Seeing that lack of action and noting the high degree of certainty of that lack of action continuing, states that are bearing the brunt of the federal government’s failure to address the situation have no choice but to step in and do it themselves. The fact that the states have reached the end of their patience in having to tolerate the negligence of the federal government in matters of border security and enforcement more than justifies taking action that happens to lack a precedent.

More to the point, however, this law isn’t “regulat[ing] immigration.” The law does not address the process of immigration in any way for a very simple reason: the process of immigration remains exactly was it was before this law was passed and remains the domain of the federal government. What this law is doing is requiring that any foreign person wishing to come to or remain in Arizona must abide by federal immigration law and be able to prove they are doing so. All of this overheated rhetoric about Nazi states and “papers please” approaches conveniently ignores that federal law already requires alien residents to carry those documents and to show them on demand to the authorities. Arizona is usurping nothing regarding the regulation of immigration. Immigrants in compliance with the law – including the part about carrying the already federally-required documents – will not be required to do a single thing more than they already are doing. Those immigrants who aren’t are in violation of the law and that’s what law enforcement personnel are supposed to be catching.

People who are in this country illegally aren’t immigrants. They’re illegal aliens. The fact that they’re here at all is a violation of our laws – see that word “illegal”? – and the people of Arizona are completely within their rights to want criminals in violation of the law to be caught and to suffer the consequences of that violation. And, once again, that’s what “law enforcement” is for.

This challenge is yet another smokescreen, an attempt at a lawyerly sleight-of-hand. The injunction should be denied and, I would hope, the entire challenge ruled uncompelling and set aside.