Constitutionality of the Arizona Immigration Law

For those of  you, who want to argue the constitutionality of the Arizona immigration bill. Well here you go. Try to argue against Supreme Court precedent.

The courts have long recognized that by Article I, Sec. 8 of the U.S. Constitution (the Commerce Clause), Congress has “plenary power” over all aspects of immigration law, including “the right to provide a system of registration and identification” for aliens, because “the entire control of international relations” is invested in the national government.[9] Courts have repeatedly held that no governmental authority may establish any policy that relates to immigration other than Congress and authorized federal agencies, and that the “(p)ower to regulate immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power.”[10]

Thus, a local governmental public policy to accept an official foreign national identification document issued to aliens present in the United States in violation of Federal law improperly annexes powers to any public entity that are rightfully those of Congress and the policy is therefore unconstitutional.

In a Supreme Court decision striking down a Pennsylvania alien registration statute, it was held that the “Federal Government…is entrusted with full and exclusive responsibility for the conduct of affairs with foreign sovereignties [, and that o]ur system of government is such that the interest of the cities, counties and states, no less than the interest of the people of the whole nation, imperatively requires that federal power in the field affecting foreign relations be left entirely free from local interference.”

The Court ruled that “where the federal government, in the exercise of its superior authority in this field, has enacted a complete scheme of regulation … states cannot, inconsistently with the purpose of Congress, conflict or interfere with, curtail or complement, the federal law, or enforce additional or auxiliary regulations.”[11] Therefore, no public entity, specifically Boulder City and County, as defined above, may make any rule, regulation or policy that speaks to the presence in the community of foreign nationals, and, thus, a “matricula consular policy” is preempted on constitutional grounds. A “matricula consular” policy adopted by local governmental authorities has also been determined unconstitutional specifically in relation to public benefits because it violates “the exclusive federal power over the entrance and residence of aliens.”[12] (via CAIR)

Here are the actually Supreme Court cases.

[10] De Canas v. Bica, 424 U.S. 351 (1976)
[11] Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S., at 66 -67
[12] Graham v. Department of Pub. Welfare, 403 U.S. 365 (1971) (USSC+)

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Published in: on May 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Jason,

    I think this is a common misconception about the Arizona law. The law is carefully worded not to affect anything regarding immigration. It only enforces current federal law, as federal law decides who is and who isn’t here legally, so immigration is still handled federally. Thus, the federal government still has power over deciding who can enter and live here, but nothing prevents the State of Arizona from enforcing it.

    I know it seems like splitting hairs, but the law does pass muster for not infringing on federal sovereignty.

    I do think the law will be thrown out as unconstitutional, but not for these reasons.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Before Arizona signed the immigration bill into law, they already had to do many of the things set forth in the bill passed. Passing another law saying to do, what Arizona law enforcement should have been doing anyways, doesn’t make a while lot of sense to me. The law is telling law enforcement to search out illegal immigrants (it seems to me).

    If it doesn’t infringe on federal sovereignty, then what makes it unconstitutional? Is it due process, equal protection, free speech, or right to remain silent? All the aforementioned are argument from the lawsuits against the immigration law.


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