WASHINGTON, DC – With the Supreme Court hearing arguments today concerning Arizona’s immigration crackdown law, Democrats are busy seeking to pass legislation that would prevent states from enacting their own immigration rules.
The legislation sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (Democrat—NY) would establish federal primacy in immigration by blocking states from taking any action. If passed, such a law would not only prohibit state law enforcement efforts like the Arizona model before the Court, but would also overturn earlier rulings by the Supreme Court that upheld another Arizona law that requires businesses to verify their workers’ legal status.
The Obama administration has sued to block Arizona’s state statute by arguing it interferes with the federal government’s exclusive right to set immigration policy. Courts at both the district and appellate levels agreed with the Obama administration but justices announced late last year they would take the case.
The justices have already upheld a 2007 Arizona law requiring all businesses to use E-Verify, the federal government’s electronic system that checks Social Security numbers to ensure that workers are in the country legally. Though voluntary on the federal level, Arizona and several other states have made it mandatory for businesses.
In a 5-3 ruling, the court said Congress specifically allowed for states to have a role in licensing businesses based on their compliance with immigration checks. Under that law, which Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed in 2010, law enforcement is required to check the legal status of those who they reasonably suspect are in the country illegally. The law also requires legal immigrants to carry their papers with them at all times when in the state.
“I believe it is simply too damaging to our economy and too dangerous to our democracy to have 50 states doing 50 different things with regard to immigration policy,” said Sen. Schumer, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee, as he convened a hearing on Arizona’s crackdown law, known as S.B. 1070.
On his radio show today, Mark Levin challenged Schumer’s reasoning. Schumer and other Democrats directly support safe haven status for cities and states that harbor illegals. This, in spite of the fact, that such efforts break federal law.
Backers of Senate Bill 1070 said it just seeks to help local police enforce what the federal government already says is illegal. “It’s modeled after federal law,” former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, chief sponsor of both S.B. 1070 and the E-Verify law, told Mr. Schumer at his hearing Tuesday.
Mr. Pearce says the need for such restrictions is underscored by the fact that several of the 9/11 hijackers had contact with police before their attacks. None were questioned about their immigration status which could have led to their detainment.
Mr. Schumer contends Arizona’s law goes beyond mirroring federal law to instead try to set a state immigration policy, something to which Congress claims exclusive jurisdiction. If the court sides with Arizona, Schumer says he will introduce a bill to make it clear that Congress doesn’t want states acting on any level of immigration enforcement. His legislation would also undo the court’s decision last year upholding states’ mandatory E-Verify laws.
“States like Arizona and Alabama will no longer be able to get away with saying they’re ‘simply helping the federal government,’ quote, unquote, to enforce the law when they are really writing their own laws and knowingly deploying untrained officers with the mission of arresting anyone and everyone who might fit the preconceived profile of an illegal immigrant,” he said.
Sen. Jon Kyl (Republican—AZ) said the hearing was designed to pressure the Supreme Court rather than to find out information. “The timing of the hearing on the eve of the Supreme Court argument, and the fact that the chairman of the committee did not consult with any of us, did not consult with either Sen. [John] McCain or me, for example, about this Arizona law, about what witnesses he would ask from Arizona, for example, suggested to us this was either an attempt to influence the court decision, which would be improper, or simply to create a political sideshow,” Mr. Kyl told reporters.
Considering President Obama’s not-so-veiled threat to the Supreme Court over its soon-to-come health care ruling, this seems to be a new tactic by Democrats. There is mounting talk of the Supreme Court justices being partisan and political, something that was never spoken of from that side of the aisle as long as justices appointed by Democrat presidents were in the majority.
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