Enforcement at Core of Arizona Immigration Lawsuit

By August 5, 2010Immigration Policy

From one perspective, Arizona’s controversial new immigration law is not that different from the federal version. But the federal government says treating all 11 million of the nation’s illegal immigrants as criminals would overwhelm the system.

On its face, Arizona’s controversial new immigration law is very similar to the federal version. There’s a key discrepancy, however. Arizona wants every illegal immigrant caught and deported. Considering that an estimated 11 million immigrants may have already entered the U.S. illegally, this is likely to be too tall an order and according to the Feds, will overwhelm the system.

In its recent lawsuit challenging the Arizona law, the Justice Department says its policy is to focus on dangerous immigrants: gang members, drug traffickers, threats to national security. Otherwise law-abiding immigrants without documentation would largely be left alone.

Homeland Security officials say the government cannot possibly find, arrest and deport everyone who is here illegally, and trying to do so would also upset a balance crafted by Congress which takes into account humanitarian interests and foreign relations.

Proponents of the Arizona solution insist that’s no reason not to try and say the state’s toughest-in-the-nation law is a reasonable way to start.

“If it’s really the case that they don’t have enough resources to enforce the laws that Congress has passed, it would seem it’s incumbent on them to go back to Congress and ask for more resources,” said Steven Camarota, research director at the center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors stricter enforcement of immigration laws. “But since they don’t do that, it sort of undermines the argument.”

Arizona’s new law is nearly identical to federal immigration law. At issue is how it is enforced. The federal government says the state law is unconstitutional because it usurps federal authority to protect U.S. borders and American citizens. Arizona counters that the federal government is not doing its job, which forces state officials to step in.

State lawmakers argue that the federal government already enlists local authorities to identify illegal immigrants who have been arrested for other crimes. The new law, they say, just extends that to police patrols.

The federal government says the law goes too far by making it a state crime to be in Arizona illegally and requiring police to question the immigration status of anyone they encounter who is believed to be undocumented.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at https://www.visatous.com.