Still trying to Understand America, part 4

Back when it was Senator Obama, he favored a “crackdown on employers” who hired illegal immigrants, and as a candidate called for “much tougher enforcement standards” for companies that employed illegal workers. The he became the President…

The move sets the stage for a high court ruling on the most disputed issue in immigration law: Can states and cities enforce their own laws against illegal immigrants, or must they wait for federal authorities to act?

The administration found itself in an awkward spot in part because the Legal Arizona Workers Act was signed into law in 2007 by then- Gov. Janet Napolitano. She said it would impose the “business death penalty” on employers caught a second time hiring illegal workers, and blamed “the flow of illegal immigration into our state … [on] the constant demand of some employers for cheap, undocumented labor.”

But in the spring, immigrant rights advocates stepped up the pressure and argued that the administration had to take a stand against a second Arizona law. SB 1070 required police to check the immigration status of people they have lawfully stopped and suspect are in the country illegally. Activists feared it would lead to “racial profiling” and harassment of legal immigrants.

In May, shortly after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, the Obama administration made its decision. It sent a brief to the Supreme Court urging the justices to hear the challenge to the Legal Arizona Workers Act on the grounds that it conflicted with the federal government’s exclusive authority to enforce immigration laws. Do you think that the federal government has an authoritative grasp of immigration laws?

Most states and many localities have considered laws that restrict or regulate illegal immigrants in areas such as employment, education, housing or law enforcement. Governors and lawmakers, including Napolitano, said they needed to act because the federal government had failed to enforce immigration laws.

Lawyers for the federal government argued these state and local laws should be thrown out because they conflicted with Washington’s exclusive control over immigration enforcement. Well quite openly from our standpoint as well as from the edict issued by the White House, “the federal government has found itself as an ‘inactive partner’ regarding immigration enforcement.

Legislatures in 44 states have pending measures on immigration, according to the National Conferences of State Legislatures. Cities and counties could get into the act as well. What is 75% of 50?

A key legal issue in the Arizona case deals with a provision of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, in which Congress made it illegal for employers to hire “an unauthorized alien.” It also added a provision that said the federal law “preempts any state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ … unauthorized aliens.”

However, in typical red, white, and blue federal fashion although the government with its provisions made it illegal for employers to hire an “unauthorized alien” at the same time Congress wanting to seem as though they were doing something, added a provision stipulating that federal law “preempts any state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ … unauthorized aliens.”

Ostensibly what the Congress did – and has a remarkable record in doing so over extended periods of time – is make a law that is either enforceable or punishable.


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