Why Arizona’s Immigration Law Could be Overturned

Immigration, Politics

Arizona has enacted a new immigration law that’s quite controversial.  Cries of racism, a nazi state and worse are being thrown around.

But whether or not you agree with the effect or spirit of this law, there are serious questions about whether it’s even legal.  Learn about why Arizona’s immigration law could be overturned.

Arizona’s new law in a nutshell

Being in Arizona illegally is a state crime.

– When a local police officer has reasonable suspicion that a person is in the US illegally, he’s required to investigate the immigration status of that person.

– When a local police officer finds a person in the US illegally, he has the authority to “securely transport” the alien into federal custody inside or outside of Arizona.

– Anyone can sue any local agency or official who implements a policy that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration law.  If the court finds in favor of the person suing, the agency or official will have to pay a civil penalty between $1,000-5,000/day for every day the policy remains in effect, plus pay attorneys fees and court costs for the plaintiff.

Immigration is the domain of the federal government

Many people are baffled as to why state police are powerless to arrest or deport illegal immigrants.  The reason makes sense when you think about it (at least in theory):  When someone immigrates to the US, he should have only one status.  In other words, an immigrant is either a citizen or he’s not.  He’s either a legal resident or he’s not.

The problem with letting states handle immigration matters is that they could handle immigration differently.  If that happens, you could have an immigrant who is an illegal immigrant in Arizona, a legal resident in New Mexico and a US citizen in Texas.  For this reason, immigration matters are the domain of the federal government.  This is the only way for the US to speak with one voice when it comes to immigration. Of course, what make sense in theory doesn’t always produce the best results in reality.

Problems with the federal government

When people feel the federal government isn’t doing its job, they want the states to act themselves.  This is more or less what’s happening in Arizona.  The trouble, of course, is that a law like Arizona’s is likely to be overturned as unconstitutional because it usurps the federal government’s authority over immigration.