At the end of this month, Arizona's anti-immigration law will take effect. SB1070 requires all immigrants to carry proof of citizenship at all times, and gives Arizona law enforcement officers the right to ask for that ID if they reasonably suspect someone they're dealing with of being an illegal immigrant. Those who don't produce their ID on demand can be detained. Arizona has not yet decided what constitutes reasonable suspicion of illegal immigrant status; the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board is tasked with figuring out that key part of the law. This will be quite tricky, as race is not an accepted criterion for suspicion. But the law is aimed specifically at Mexican illegals. Hmm. Complicated.
The passage of the bill was spurred, in part, by the murder of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz in March. On the day he was shot, Krentz reportedly used a two-way radio to tell his brother he had been seen an "illegal alien" in the area. He did not impart any other information. The attitude of many Arizona citizens seems to be, "We know it was an illegal drug smuggler, we just don't have any evidence of that, or any suspects."
Let me make it clear, for the record, that I have a great deal of sympathy for illegal immigrants from Mexico. If I had a family in one of the poorest parts of that country, I would certainly sneak into a safer, more prosperous country in the hope that my children would have opportunities they could never otherwise have. That's natural. We want the best for our families. So the problem is not with the illegal immigrants themselves. I don't believe, as Jones has stated, that they are "diluting the culture", because the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, anyway. Yes, I know that increased crime rates are being attributed to illegal immigration and/or trans-border drug smuggling - but that's not a situation that needs new laws. It just needs tougher enforcement of existing laws, and/or increased funding for law enforcement in high-crime areas.
The bottom line is, though, that I oppose illegal immigration. As difficult as it is to face, I believe that Mexicans must stay in Mexico until they can enter the U.S. lawfully to live and work. That's just the way it is.
But SB1070 has sparked fears of racial profiling and discrimination, and not without cause. I know that the U.S. doesn't treat even its legal immigrants well. Each new wave of immigrants is put through trial by fire: Racism, discrimination, marginalization, abuse. Hispanic Americans obviously don't relish the idea of being set apart from other citizens.
This is not the first attempt by a state to crack down on illegal immigration with extreme measures. Janet Napolitano, now secretary of Homeland Security, repeatedly vetoed similar legislation when she was governor of Arizona. A far less rigid anti-immigration bill, California's Proposition 187, was shot down in 1994.
An April Rasmussen poll showed that 70% of Arizona voters approved of SB1070.
On the other hand, San Francisco and a few other cities have passed laws protecting illegal immigrants from federal immigration law.
On Tuesday (July 6), the Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix against the state of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer, seeking a court injunction to prevent the law from taking effect. The suit claims SB1070 interferes with existing federal immigration laws, and is therefore invalid.
Attorney General Eric Holder stated that "diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country's safety."
Jones calls this lawsuit "treason", raising the question: Is it legal and Constitutional for the federal government to oppose (via lawsuit) a state law?
The answer is "yes". The federal government cannot repeal or amend state law, not even by executive order. But there's nothing to stop it from challenging the constitutionality of a state law in federal court, which is exactly what the DoJ is doing now. This is made possible by the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which basically states that federal law is the law of the land and can not be superseded or negated by state law. The "preemptive doctrine" derived from this clause permits the federal government to challenge any state law that encroaches upon federal regulation, law, interest, etc. But don't go thinking that this doctrine always works in the federal government's favour; it's actually very difficult, in most such cases, for the federal side to prove it has "occupation of the field". One fascinating example is Silkwood v Kerr-Mcgee (1984). After Karen Silkwood died in 1974, her family filed suit against Kerr-Mcgee. They were awarded $10 million in punitive damages, and Kerr -Mcgee fought the judgment by arguing that the federal government (in the form of the Atomic Energy Commission) was responsible for any "irregularities" at the nuclear facility where Silkwood had worked. In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that in this case, federal regulation did not supersede state or local regulation and Kerr-Mcgee would have to pay up (they settled out of court instead, for a fraction of the original judgement). In other words, Kerr-Mcgee was held responsible for lax safety at their Oklahoma plant even though it met federal (AEC) standards. The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law has an informative page on these issues.
You might not like it, but the DoJ lawsuit against Arizona is constitutionally sound and perfectly legal. It will be up to a judge to decide if, as legal precedent indicates, naturalization is in the federal domain. If the Arizona law stands, then we may have a problem. Immigration and naturalization could become a state-regulated affair, with each state setting its own standards of citizenship. You could be a legal resident in Vermont but an illegal in New Jersey.
An equally important question: Is SB1070 unconstitutional? The answer, I believe, is "yes". The 14th Amendment states, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States..." I'd say that stopping a citizen and demanding to see proof of citizenship is an abridgment of that person's rights. The argument that "he might be an illegal" is moot, because anyone might be an illegal. Now one of the Anonymi who commented on this post (along with many other supporters of SB1070) has pointed out that a driver's license can suffice as proof of citizenship, since you have to present your papers to acquire one. Therefore, there's nothing wrong with an officer asking someone for proof of U.S. citizenship. Jones states, in his special alert video about "Obama's treason", that SB1070 is just a "mirror" of federal immigration law. This is false. Federal law does not require immigrants to carry proof of citizenship at all times. It does require non-citizens ("permanent residents") to carry their green cards, but no citizen is legally required to carry any form of ID at all times.
You can argue that Arizona is struggling to fill in the gaps in federal legislation, but you cannot validly claim that the Arizona law is similar in any way to federal laws already on the books.
Jones also argues that the 11th Amendment, which forbids the federal government or any state from suing a state on behalf of a foreign entity, renders the DoJ suit unconstitutional. He's apparently referring to his belief that "foreign bankers" are taking over the U.S., and that illegal immigration suits their purposes nicely. He also seems to think the 14th Amendment makes the DoJ lawsuit unconstitutional. This is why Alex Jones is not a lawyer, folks.
Ironically, SB1070 could (and by "could" I mean "probably won't be") used as a gateway to the kind of mandatory universal ID cards that Jones & Co. fear. If immigrants must be required to carry proof of citizenship, why not the rest of us? It's interesting that both Jones and former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano criticized the Real ID Act, which contained anti-immigration provisions. Jones did so because he doesn't like the idea of national ID cards; everyone would be required to have one. However, the bulk of the administration of the Real ID system is under state control.
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