Obama Is Part Of The Problem Arizona Is Trying To Solve
EDITORIAL: Arizona to Obama: Do your job
Washington continues to ignore the illegal immigration problem
hear liberal critics talk, it would be easy to think the state
of Arizona unleashed anti-Latino posses to detain all
brown-skinned people, demand their proof of citizenship and toss
them in jail if the answers aren't satisfactory. The real
story is more sober.
The new Arizona immigration law does not institutionalize racial
profiling or make being Hispanic a crime. It allows law
enforcement officers to conduct citizenship checks of people
already detained for unrelated offenses, and only if there is
reason to believe someone is in the country illegally. If so,
they are handed over to federal immigration officials, who
should have apprehended them in the first place.
Illegal immigration is a growing problem. A CBS/New York Times
poll in mid-April found that 83 percent of respondents thought
it was either a very or somewhat serious issue. Americans are
especially concerned because of double-digit unemployment and
state budgets straining to provide services.
Washington has been either unable or unwilling to cope with the
problem, and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said the law she signed
last week was intended to fill the enforcement vacuum created by
federal passivity. "We in Arizona have been more than patient
waiting for Washington to act," she said at the signing
ceremony, "but decades of inaction and misguided policy have
created a dangerous and unacceptable situation."
President Obama countered that it was the Arizona law that was
"misguided" while also acknowledging that the immigration system
was "broken," which actually is Mrs. Brewer's point.
The O Force claims Arizonans are illegally trespassing on
federal legal domain. "The determination of who should or
shouldn't be in this country is not one for the states to make,"
Mr. Obama said. "This is a federal prerogative. Even if the
states think we aren't doing our job, they have no right to step
in." Like much of what the president says, this is not true.
The Supreme Court has ruled that when state laws are harmonious
with federal regulations, pre-emption is not a given. In this
case, Arizona is not claiming the right to define who is an
illegal alien but to help enforce existing federal law. The
federal government would need a persuasive reason to argue that
Arizona cannot lend a hand, and because the president admitted
the system is broken, he seems to have conceded the point.
The Arizona law has a stronger constitutional basis than Mr.
Obama either knows or would like to admit. The Supreme Court
addressed many issues regarding immigration and the
federal-state relationship in De Canas v. Bica (1976), in which
migrant workers sued the state of California over a law that
prohibited employers from knowingly employing illegal aliens - a
provision also included in the new Arizona law. The migrants
claimed the law infringed on a federal prerogative, but the high
court disagreed. "Power to regulate immigration is
unquestionably exclusively a federal power," Justice William J.
Brennan wrote for the majority. "But the Court has never held
that every state enactment which in any way deals with aliens is
a regulation of immigration and thus per se pre-empted by this
constitutional power, whether latent or exercised."
Rather than lecturing states on what they cannot do to mitigate
the growing crisis of illegal immigration, or loosing the
Justice Department on Arizona in search of phantom civil rights
violations, Mr. Obama would better serve America by enforcing
the laws that are on the books or helping draft new laws more to
his liking. It would help if he started by admitting that he
is a big part of the problem Arizona is trying to solve.