Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The US Lawsuit Over Arizona's Immigration Law Will Backfire, Is Shortsighted

The United States' lawsuit to invalidate Arizona's enactment of an immigration law will cause more harm than good to immigrants in the US.

The judges, including appellate and likely also US Supreme Court, who will hear and decide this case, will write judicial opinions clarifying their reasoning for their decisions to uphold or overturn in whole or in part Arizona's immigration law.

The court decisions will define the boundaries of allowable immigration law by the states. All states, including inland states, do have certain rights to protect their borders and to seek out those who have committed crimes at the state and federal level, but clearly, their rights are not as encompassing as the federal rights.

The court will have to articulate a set of rules for allowing or disallowing a state to enforce rules about its borders and about seeking out persons within its borders who have committed crimes.

Once rules are established, state legislators can attempt to write legislation that complies with the rules and bans illegal immigrants. Some of these laws in whole or part will survive further lawsuits and become the blueprint for other states to follow.

Additionally, before a court considers a constitutional argument to a law, the court will consider whether there are other reasons, such as federal preemption, to invalidate the state law. Unconstitutionality is a last resort of a court.

If the courts overturn the Arizona law, more likely than a finding of a violation of the US constitution, the court will find that federal law preempts the Arizona law.

The court decision finding preemption will cite specific federal laws. There will be call by the states and by the majority of US citizens that support Arizona's law for the Congress to amend the cited federal laws to allow states to control illegal immigration within their borders.

The lawsuit will open a Pandora's Box. In the end, it will establish a blueprint for allowable state laws about immigration and more states will enact laws than if there were no lawsuit.

The lawsuit will also pressure Congress to modify any federal laws to allow states to enact their own illegal immigration enforcement laws.

In the end, either the Obama administration will lose the lawsuit outright or it will establish an outline for states legally to enact illegal immigration laws. It is a shortsighted move by Obama.

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