Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Arizona Border Control Law Update: A Federal Judge Violates States’ Rights

A Clinton-appointed federal district judge has imposed an injunction on the most significant parts of Arizona’s law that enables its police to enforce federal border control law regulating the entry of foreign visitors. The judge based her opinion on the Obama Administration’s argument that federal law pre-empts state law. The Administration was the plaintiff. However, there is nothing in the United States Constitution that pre-empts state border control laws.

Passing border control laws is a pre-existing sovereign right of the states. Indeed, before the 1880s, there was no federal immigration law. The only relevant section of the Constitution, Article I, Section 8, addresses naturalization, not the entry or exit of foreign visitors. Furthermore, nothing in that founding document prohibits states from controlling their own borders. Rights not prohibited to the states by the Constitution are retained by them under the Tenth Amendment.

Moreover, the Arizona law in question does not conflict with federal law. It only enforces federal law. As I noted in a previous post, the Obama Administration is being sued in federal court by many states that object to being forced to enforce federal law they oppose (the federal mandate for citizens of the states to purchase health insurance as a condition of residence in the U.S.), while the Administration is suing Arizona for enforcing federal law it supports.

The Framers of the Constitution established a system of limited government, known as federalism, in order to prevent the concentration of power. The Arizona border control ruling, which certainly will be appealed, represents an example of the Obama Administration’s general policy of violating states' rights in order to centralize power in the federal government.

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