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EDITORIAL: Arizona fights ‘intrusion of obnoxious aliens’

States need to protect themselves when Washington won’t

- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2012

The Supreme Court ruled that the state of Arizona checking the citizenship status of people detained or arrested for other offenses is not racial profiling. The court, however, refused to address the core issue: What can states do to protect their borders when the federal government refuses to enforce the law?

The ID check provision of S.B. 1070, the Arizona immigration statute had drawn the most heat in the public debate. The law's supporters were branded as racists, and liberal politicians exploited the controversy to pander for money and votes. While the justices noted the legal mandate could be applied in a discriminatory way, there was no evidence this had taken place, and that the law on its face was deemed constitutional. Justice Antonin Scalia noted in concurrence that Arizona's measure, "merely tells state officials that they are authorized to do something that they were, by the [federal] government's concession, already authorized to do."

"In passing S.B. 1070, Arizona sought to enforce existing federal law in a way that the Obama administration wouldn't," Rep. Ben Quayle, Arizona Republican, told The Washington Times. He said the ruling was "an incomplete victory" but "empowers Arizona to enforce the law and keep its people safe." The aspects of the rule that were struck down - those which imposed state criminal penalties for immigration violations - were nullified on the basis of the doctrine of federal supremacy, but the court refused to offer options to frustrated states trying to compensate for Washington inaction during a crisis.

Arizona and other states are fighting the Obama doctrine of cherry-picking which legal requirements the chief executive will enforce. This was the basis of the policy announced June 15 that the government would give large numbers of illegal immigrants de-facto amnesty by suspending deportation proceedings against them and allowing them to work in the country legally. The Department of Homeland Security added fuel to the fire Monday by announcing it was suspending agreements with Arizona police over enforcement of federal immigration laws. These and other actions call into question President Obama's commitment to his sworn executive duty under Article 2, Section 3, Clause 4 of the Constitution to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

Justice Scalia protested that the states, as sovereign bodies, have a right to various forms of self-defense to prevent, in the words of James Madison, "the intrusion of obnoxious aliens through other states." He said this case dealt with "the defining characteristic of sovereignty: the power to exclude from the sovereign's territory people who have no right to be there." He stated, "neither the Constitution itself nor even any law passed by Congress supports" the notion that Arizona cannot detain and remove people present in the Grand Canyon State illegally.

America is at a crossroads in the desert. The framers of the Constitution didn't envision a president preventing states from upholding the law. Mr. Obama's actions eviscerate the Supreme Court's logic and prove the very point made by backers of S.B. 1070 and similar legislation. When the federal government abrogates its constitutional duty to protect the states, the states must protect themselves. A statute on the books is useless when the occupant of the White House calculates that it's in his political interest not to enforce it.

The Washington Times

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