It comes as no surprise that Obama’s Justice Department announced they would join a suit against Utah’s HB497 which allows officers to check the immigration status of anyone arrested (it not just stopped – they are checked at the time of arrest). It also comes as no surprise that Holder et al also chose to ignore suing on HB116 (for now) which provides local amnesty and establishes a clearly unconstitutional state illegal immigration amnesty program fraught with serious problems.
Interestingly, the State Department is part of the suit alleging actually enforcing immigration law amounts to interfering in international relations. Apparently, the State Department figures if your citizens manage to break our laws and enter the country, we must renounce our sovereignty and allow the illegal immigrants to stay lest we offend. Are those governments held to the same standard? Does that mean local police agencies are to immediately release legal immigrant criminals for fear of meddling in the State Department’s foreign relations turf? Please – that’s preposterous.
What about the Justice Department? They don’t want local agencies enforcing a federal law. However, local police and regulatory agencies do so on a daily basis and have done so for decades, if not well over a century. Which federal law should local agencies enforce? Should local enforcement then refuse to cooperate with federal investigations or crimes if they do not directly coincide with state interests/statutes? If a state and federal law is broken, should the state retain the criminal and refuse to inform federal agents of the arrest (ie let the feds expend their own resources for their own criminals)? Again, that is all preposterous.
It has long been practiced that local government can enforce federal law and enact laws no less stringent than the federal government. Constitutionally, that practice is sound as local government, ultimately, has the decision whether to assist with federal enforcement. Nor are local governments breaching constitutional powers delegated to the federal government by enforcing (rather than enacting) existing federal law (except for HB116). Fortunately, Alabama’s much more aggressive enforcement law has, for now, been upheld so we’ll see where this one goes. It is, however, telling that Holder focuses on the law that follows long held traditions and raises few (if any) constitutional red flags while overlooking another state law that usurps a defined federal constitutional power.