Obama and Janet Napolitano restricted the agreement so that it can only be used to enforce the law against illegal aliens who also commit other crimes, and unfortunately many local law enforcement agencies stopped pursuing the law.
When Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio cracked down on illegal immigration without getting permission from Obama, they threatened to revoke his 287(g) status. When Sheriff Joe refused to balk, they filed suit against him with a frivolous civil rights claim.
The truth is that Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act explicitly acknowledges that states have the inherit authority to enforce immigration law stating:
“Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require an agreement . . . in order for any officer of a State . . . to communicate with the [Secretary of Homeland Security] regarding the immigration status of any individual . . . or otherwise to cooperate with the [Secretary] in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal [CLEAR] Act further clarifies the states’ rights over immigration by “reaffirming the existing inherent authority of States…to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain, or transfer to Federal custody aliens in the United States…for the purposes of assisting in the enforcement of the immigration laws of the United States in the course of carrying out routine duties. This State authority has never been displaced or preempted by Congress.”
I’m flattered that my law has become a litmus test on immigration, but I hate to see Democrats and RINOs pretend to defend it to win votes. In Arizona a number of vulnerable Democratic Congressmen including Gabrielle Giffords and Ann Kirkpatrick tried to sound tough by opposing the federal lawsuit with much fanfare. Yet these same Democrats opposed SB 1070 initially, and they refuse to defend Arizona’s right to enforce the law. Rather they simply demand that the federal government take action (i.e. amnesty.) Needless to say, they have not co-sponsored the CLEAR Act.
With friends like these, SB 1070 does not need enemies. Any candidate or politician on the federal level who claims to support SB 1070 needs to put their money where their mouth is. This means supporting the CLEAR Act and acknowledging a state’s inherit right to enforce the law, opposing activist judges, and demanding that the federal government enforce all laws.
Of course the federal government needs to enforce its own laws and secure the border. But until they do, the least we can ask of them is not to interfere with states that care about the rule of law.
Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce is the author and sponsor of SB 1070.