Supreme Court Examines Arizona Immigration Law: Federal or State Responsibility?

Liberty Counsel Press Release

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on the Arizona immigration law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in 2010. This law is widely considered to be one of the nation’s toughest anti-immigration statutes.

“The crisis the country is witnessing in Arizona over immigration is the result of a failed immigration policy at the federal level,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “While I understand that Arizona lawmakers felt compelled to act because the federal government would not, I do not agree that the Arizona law was the wisest course of action,” Staver continued. “It is the federal government’s failure that has led to the current crisis. The Arizona law is a symptom and a cry for help.”

The federal government’s case against the state of Arizona rests primarily on the concern that some individuals could possibly be racially profiled, under a provision of the law which allows for officers to stop individuals and ask for their proof of citizenship on the basis of a reasonable suspicion of that person being an illegal immigrant.

While this concern could be valid, there is also a jurisdictional issue that must be decided. The federal government has traditionally been understood to have jurisdiction over immigration, including matters of enforcement. Without a uniform rule for immigration, America may have 50 different immigration standards, which would be chaotic and unworkable. By placing the burden of enforcing the immigration laws on its state and local officers, Arizona is violating the jurisdictional boundaries set forth by the Constitution.

“Our national security and domestic tranquility depends on secure borders,” Mat Staver said. “We must return to a rational immigration policy that acknowledges that we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws,” Staver concluded.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.


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