I woke up this morning to news that the federal government has decided to file suit over Arizona’s controversial immigration law — this according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (the interview in which she made this statement is available here). Although President Obama has called the law “misguided” and potentially discriminatory, to this point he and Attorney General Eric Holder had maintained that the Justice Department was in the process of deciding whether or not to file suit. More specifically, Secretary Clinton said that “President Obama has spoken out against the law because he thinks that the federal government should be determining immigration policy.”
The Arizona law, which is set to go into effect in July, would require immigrants in the state to carry documents verifying their immigration status and would require police officers to question a person about his or her immigration status during a “lawful stop” if there is “reasonable suspicion” that person may be in the country illegally. Holder had indicated that he believes “the law is an unfortunate one that will be subject to potential abuse” and said that the Justice Department is “considering a court challenge.” Yesterday, the Justice Department was still saying that the law is under review.
As one who lives in one of the four border states forced to deal with illegal immigration most directly, I have mixed feelings about the law. On the one hand, I fully agree with the President that the law is wrong-headed and dangerous (and Arizona may next be going after so-called “anchor babies“). I also agree that the federal government should be making immigration policy.
Just please do it!
A reasonable case can be made for both strict and loose borders. But whatever the ultimate decision, a substantive policy needs to be put into place and enforced. I fully understand Arizona’s frustration on account of its ongoing obligation to deal with and pay for, at huge cost, the feds’ failure to do the job.
Immigration is a federal problem. It should be dealt with at the federal level. But it isn’t. It’s momumentally unfair for state budgets — especially in these difficult times — to be forced to pay for the negligence and malfeasance of the federal government in this area. It has gone on for decades. That’s far, far too long.