The Corner

Some Arizona Questions

Shikha Dalmia writes at Forbes.com,

[T]he more serious constitutional problem with the Arizona law is that it illegitimately usurps a federal function given that, as with foreign policy matters, Uncle Sam has ultimate jurisdiction in setting national immigration policy. Professor Juliet Stumpf of Portland’s Lewis & Clark Law School notes that courts have given states some leeway to set their own laws to deal with immigrant-related crime and other issues so long as their primary purpose is not to regulate immigration flows. But the Arizona law is not exactly subtle about what its true aim is. Its opening sentence reads: “The intent of this act is to make attrition [of the immigrant population] through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.” In short, it is criminalizing immigration-related violations under state law not to deal with immigrant-related crimes—but to give state authorities expanded tools to drive out immigrants.

Two questions: First, if the states may only “deal with immigrant-related crime” and not “regulate immigration flows” (even by enforcing federal policies) then why haven’t the federal courts struck down Arizona’s 2005 and 2007 laws? Second, isn’t there a word missing in that “drive out immigrants” bit? Starts with an I. . .

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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