Immigration, Federalism, Jurisdiction and Elections
The Supreme Court’s opinion surrounding the Federal Government’s challenge to Arizona’s SB1070 law, which was designed to toughen immigration enforcement in one of the nation’s most affected Border States, had both sides claiming victory. Yet it left a muddled picture of immigration policy and enforcement by the Federal Government as we move forward especially concerning how it affects the states. The ruling opposed most of Arizona’s state statutes affecting illegal aliens and takes Missouri back to the drawing board with them.
The key portion of the bill, Section 2B or the “show me your papers” provision, was upheld by a unanimous (8-0) decision. (Justice Kagan recused herself from the ruling based on work done before she was named to the court.) That section instructs police officers to check the immigration status of those they stop or arrest for other crimes if they have reason to suspect the person is residing in the country illegally.
However, the court in a split decision (5-3) maintained that the federal government’s jurisdiction over immigration enforcement is not only clear and preeminent, but also is predisposed. That is, states should anticipate what the feds will do in illegal alien encounters and simply neglect those laws that the feds will ignore. The decision prohibits Arizona from making it a state crime for undocumented immigrants to reside in the state or to seek work there, and invalidates a provision that would have given police the power to arrest those suspected of residing in the country illegally.
This is a significant challenge to the constitutional status quo. The U.S. Constitution provides the jurisdictional limits of federal law, but states have historically enacted laws within federal jurisdictions as long as those state laws were consistent with federal law, thereby allowing prosecution of federal crimes in state courts. According to some, yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling says “not so” with issues of immigration.
Justice Antonin Scalia expressed his displeasure with the ruling in his dissenting opinion: “Arizona has moved to protect its sovereignty — not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it. If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign state.”
The Department of Homeland Security retaliated quickly by rescinding its agreement with Arizona on a program known as 287(g), which allows the feds to deputize local officials to make immigration-based arrests. That means that even if local police step up immigration checks, they’ll have to rely on federal officials to make the arrests. And federal officials made it clear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials will not respond to the scene unless the person in question meets certain criteria — such as being wanted for a felony
The Supreme Court is an important arm of the United States’ three-branch, checks-and-balances governing structure, and although they do only issue “opinions,” theirs is the job of jointly deciding how our Constitution and our laws apply when there are disputes. In this ruling, they clearly sided with the federal executive branch’s view of jurisdiction. The most important decision now is how to respond.
If the court is right — and maybe they are; it appears they based their decision on the jurisdiction of the federal government in issues of foreign affairs — then we have lost the state’s rights argument and have given up our right to secure Missouri’s borders. This does not diminish the significance of borders nor solve the problem of illegal aliens in the United States, so the question becomes “what do we do now in the states?” Someone once said “It is not so important where we are as where we are going.”
In light of the court’s opinion, two things grow radically in importance: 1. Elections and 2. Education. We must be more diligent in never electing to the office of president anyone who is not ideologically and politically committed to defending both the U.S. Constitution and the U.S.borders. Clearly the current administration is committed to neither, and this court ruling has fundamentally imposed their disregard on every state — of particular concern to those with foreign borders.
Secondly, how can we ignore any longer the plight of removing absolutes from education? Once absolutes are removed from any society or jurisdiction all that remains is opinion, and in a world of opinion the tyrant will prevail. The “political correctness” of a “government” education, which usually resembles indoctrination more than learning, must be replaced by returning to what made America great — truth about ideas that work or do not, and the absolutes of character. That is the realm of teachers, parents, grandparents and communities, not of government.
Are you concerned with the harm of neglecting our borders? Do we want to continue to be a nation of laws and not of men? Then focus your attention on the August 7th and November 6th elections and vote for those men and women who are committed to upholding the Constitution of the United States and of Missouri, protecting our state’s citizens from an overreaching, lawless government and putting education back into the hands of the people. Let’s be sure that on our watch government of the people by the people and for the people does not perish from the earth.