An excerpt from an editorial in the New York Times: “When States Put Out the Unwelcome Mat”
There is one area, besides copper mining and home foreclosures, where Arizona is a national leader. It’s at the front of a movement by states and local governments to seize control of immigration from the federal government. In 2010 it passed a law, S.B. 1070, that made the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants its official policy with a grab bag of enforcement schemes that turned federal immigration infractions into state crimes. Among other things, the law required immigration checks by local police, required immigrants to carry papers with them, and made it illegal for the undocumented to live or look for work in the state, or for people to knowingly hire, harbor or transport them.
A state with its own immigration law — that is, its own foreign policy — raises obvious constitutional issues. The Supreme Court is taking up S.B. 1070 next month, addressing the question of whether federal authority pre-empts state and local immigration crackdowns. A decision is expected this summer. The court could help bottle up a dangerous trend, or unleash more mischief across the country.
Last year was a banner year for immigration laws in the states. Arizona’s law set a low standard that other states have tried to match or outdo. Thirty-one states introducedlegislation in 2011 imitating all or part of S.B. 1070, and five — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — went whole hog, passing Arizona-style omnibus laws.
Despite evidence that such laws are terrible for business and constitutionally unsound — courts have blocked key parts of the laws in Arizona and the copycat states, while employers and residents have complained bitterly about their burdens and expense — lawmakers have not been deterred. Missouri, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia are considering similar crackdowns. (Mississippi’s bill also includes a provision that shields “international business executives” from being hassled by the police, perhaps inspired by an incident in Alabama where a manager from Mercedes-Benz was arrested under the new immigration law.)
Read more [New York Times]