Rep. Grijalva: Arizona's Immigration Law Would Lead to Chaos
Not for a single day since the founding of this nation have states had the authority to create immigration policy
April 23, 2012
Arizona's SB 1070 should be struck down by the Supreme Court. The Constitution clearly gives exclusive authority to the federal government over immigration and naturalization issues and over interstate and international commerce. Supporters of SB 1070 have never explained why this exclusive authority is irrelevant. Talking points about state rights don't change the meaning of the Constitution.
The Constitution's supremacy clause intentionally vests powers in the federal government over areas that serve the national interest. The framers wrote the Constitution in order to repair the flaws of the Articles of Confederation and built a system in direct response to the need for a cohesive central government to resolve conflicts between states, create uniformity in currency and measurement, to ease and evenly regulate the flow of commerce, and to create a coherent national policy around issues that were inherently national rather than local, including foreign policy and immigration.
The Constitution states that Congress has the power to "establish a uniform rule of naturalization ... throughout the United States." The federal government has done so. Not for a single day since the founding of this nation have states had the authority to create immigration policy.
Allowing Arizona to write its own immigration law threatens the federal system of governance that has facilitated more than two centuries of American success. It would open the door for a patchwork of wildly differing state standards that undermine the purpose and intent of a cohesive national immigration policy. Those who agree with SB 1070 would do well to consider whether they really want a country with 50 immigration laws. Allowing laws like SB 1070 to exist would burden national and international commerce. Fifty state laws could create 50 different restrictions on the flow of employment and goods and would burden the national tax base and the labor pool. Just as seriously, allowing states to write their own immigration laws would create a legal morass for individuals and families to wade through when making decisions about everything from where to work, where to go to school, whom to associate with and whom to offer a ride home.
The current immigration law is broken. Very few people support the status quo, and I am not one of them. When I first came to Congress a decade ago, I believed we could build consensus around a sensible fix. Unfortunately, years of harmful rhetoric and the unwillingness of many in Congress to find an honest and meaningful resolution to this problem have led this important conversation to the brink of collapse. The actions of Arizona and a number of copycat states have moved this conversation away from Congress, where it belongs and where the Constitution intends for it to take place.