Debate Club

Arizona's Immigration Law Is Constitutional--and Already Working

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Contrary to the view of this U.S. government, not every state action related to aliens is preempted by federal law. America has a system of dual sovereignty. Only state laws that regulate immigration are preempted by federal law.

Almost 40 years ago, in the 1976 case De Canas v. Bica, the Supreme Court made it clear that the mere fact aliens are the subject of a state statute does not render it a regulation of immigration. Only the determination of who should or should not be admitted into the country, and the conditions under which that person may remain, is the regulation of immigration.

Accordingly, the Arizona Legislature enacted SB 1070 on the principle that we had authority to utilize our well-established police powers in areas touching on immigration as long as we did not did not "regulate" immigration. Arizona's landmark legislation empowers state and local law enforcement to protect their communities against the dangers posed by illegal aliens.

Unreported is that a majority of SB 1070 has already been deemed constitutional and most of "America's toughest anti-illegal immigration law" has been upheld by the courts. SB 1070 is largely in effect today and it is making a real difference.

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

Before Gov. Jan Brewer signed my bill into law, Phoenix ranked second in the world in kidnappings. Beheadings and contract killings by drug cartels were plaguing the state. Signs were posted just 30 miles from Phoenix by the Feds warning citizens they were entering into territory controlled by cartels and gangs. Phoenix's violent crime rates were among the highest in the country, and the city was the home invasion, car-jacking, and identity theft capital of the nation.

Since implementation of most of SB 1070, over 200,000 illegal aliens have left Arizona (self-deported). According to the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, "Since SB 1070, Phoenix has experienced a 30-year low crime rate ... Old policing strategies didn't bring about these falling crime rates. SB 1070 did ... the deterrence factor this legislation brought about was clearly instrumental in our unprecedented drop in crime. And all of this without a single civil rights, racial profiling, or biased policing complaint."

Today, Phoenix and surrounding cities are enjoying 30 year low crime rates. Arizona's overall crime rate is three times lower than the national average, and the state prison population is declining for the first time. State and local governments are saving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in education, healthcare and other expenses thanks to dramatically lower numbers of illegal aliens enrolling in schools, visiting hospitals, and using other taxpayer-funded services.

Better still, Arizonans are filling the jobs illegal aliens are leaving behind. Arizona's economy was ranked 49th in the nation during the recession. Today, Arizona's is the 6th best-performing in the recovery.

[Read: Immigration Reform Is Key to Job Creation.]

What leads most scholars to believe the Supreme Court will uphold SB 1070 is clear: existing federal law already makes it a crime to enter the United States without the sort of documentation SB 1070 calls for. Indeed, under current federal law, repeat illegal entries may be charged as a felony, and U.S. citizens who employ, aid or harbor illegals may face serious fines or other penalties.

Among the many safeguards written into SB 1070 are stringent protections against racial profiling. With SB 1070, we deferred to existing federal law for this specific reason. Indeed the perceived injustices surrounding SB 1070 have been only that: perceived. They have been fabricated by the liberal left and their media agents to create dense smoke where there was no fire.

According to 8 USC 1644 and 8 USC 1373, "sanctuary policies" are illegal. SB 1070, in full accordance with federal law, removes the handcuffs from state and local law enforcement. All law enforcement agencies have the legal authority, but also a moral obligation, to uphold our laws. The invasion of illegals we face today, including drug cartels, gangs, human traffickers, and even terrorists, poses one of the greatest threats to our nation in terms of political, economic and national security.

What we shall learn this summer is that SB 1070's detractors don't have the public, the law, or the Constitution on their side. What we shall learn this November is that U.S. presidents should never side with foreign governments against the American people. But that is a constitutional question for another time.

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  • Russell Pearce

    About Russell Pearce Former Arizona State Senator and Author of SB 1070

    Tags
    Supreme Court
    Arizona

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