Friday, April 23, 2010

When the Feds Fail, States Step In

Glenn Reynolds makes an interesting argument:

ARIZONA’S IMMIGRATION BILL: I think that Krauthammer is right that it’s a response to the federal government’s failures, and I also agree with people who say it’s likely trumped by the Supremacy Clause — Congress has plenary authority over immigration, and though it’s not entirely settled — is there a “dormant immigration clause?” — that’s the way to bet. But it occurs to me in light of Krauthammer’s comments that there’s another clause in the Constitution that may be relevant: Article IV Section 4:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
Were I representing Arizona, I’d argue that the federal government is in default on its “protection against invasion” responsibility, and that this empowers the state to resort to self-help. Not sure how that would play out, but it would make an interesting law review article. And a fun oral argument
.The problem is that the government has not done their job. In fact, the government seems more inclined to take up endeavors that are not its job, say, health care, than those functions that fall under its authority. This puts states in a vise. Few people support the notion that someone should be pulled over, let along arrested, for “driving while brown” but the federal government’s lackadaisical approach to border security has forced Arizona in to that position.

Arizona, home to an estimated 460,000 illegal aliens, has a total population of approximately 6.5 million according to the most recent estimates available. This works out to approximately one of every fourteen people in the state being there illegally. In addition to the strain that illegal immigration has put on Arizona’s schools and social services, crime committed by illegals is on the rise. Unfortunately, the powers that be in Washington, including former Arizona governor and current head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, have turned their backs on states suffering under the burden of illegal immigration. Arizona has simply decided that if the federal government will not do its job then the state will fill the void.

The current immigration reform bill making its way through Congress offers nothing more than the same old “get out of jail free card” type legislation that we seen in the past. Offering amnesty every few years is not reform. It is a worn out excuse to ignore a problem that is not going away. Until the federal government takes its obligations to its citizens seriously the states will be forced to take their own measures. If these measures seem draconian, place the blame at the federal level where it belongs.

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