The Supreme Court today upheld an Arizona state law that would penalize businesses hiring illegal immigrants. The case was Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting.
Frankly, I’m really surprised. There’s been so much talk about Arizona’s immigration-related laws (particularly SB 1070) being unconstitutional because immigration enforcement is the federal government’s responsibility, not the states’. Today’s ruling certainly seems to uphold a state law that does get into one important aspect of immigration enforcement. It gives me hope that this law, along with SB 1070 and similar laws around the country, will be upheld. It defies logic for the federal government to keep states from passing and enforcing laws that it has been unable (apparently) to enforce by itself. It defies logic to tell the states they can’t protect themselves by controlling illegal activities within their own borders.
Not surprisingly, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today refused to lift its stay on the enforcement of much of Arizona’s controversial anti–illegal immigration bill, SB 1070. The law, scheduled to take effect last July, would have allowed police, in certain circumstances, to ascertain the immigration status of persons stopped for other violations. The U.S. Justice Department sued, saying immigration enforcement is exclusively a federal responsibility.
The issue will remain in limbo until it is finally heard and ruled upon by the U.S. Supreme Court. To date, no one has adequately explained what states with serious illegal immigration problems are to do when the federal government fails to enforce the law while at the same time denying that option to the states.
What possible justification is there for including an ongoing internal U.S. controversy in a report to an international agency? The Arizona law, its constitutionality, states’ rights — all are being examined at this time. If and when the matter becomes settled law, then and only then it might be appropriate to include the law in some kind of report to the U.N., although why any of our internal matters are reportable to the U.N. is a mystery.
Reportedly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the decision to include the dispute in her report to the U.N. to demonstrate to the world how the U.S. deals with such issues. At the very least, she acted prematurely, considering the entire matter is still very much unsettled. (And honestly, would you hold up our immigration mess to the world as an example of how we do things??)
Nor is the controversy an issue of human rights. Nobody has an inherent human right to cross illegally into the U.S. or any other country. It’s not a basic human right to stay in a country in violation of that country’s laws. The issue is, and always has been, legal rights, not human rights.
The U.S. government itself could have challenged the law on whatever basis it wanted, but it chose to challenge Arizona’s right as a state to enact and enforce immigration law, contending that only the federal government can do so. It couldn’t, after all, effectively challenge the provisions of the law since they mirror existing U.S. immigration law.
The U.S. government itself relegated the issue to a jurisdictional dispute. Clinton and the Obama administration are wrong to include it in a report to an international human rights agency.
It is being reported today that Chile and 10 other countries have signed a declaration in support of Mexico and against Arizona’s new immigration law, SB 1070. They consider the law to be “racist, xenophobic and anti-immigration of any kind,” according to the document.
Mexico asked other nations to sign the document, which makes one wonder if Mexico, so openly opposed to the law, accurately described it when soliciting the signatures. Was it explained that the law is the same as U.S. immigration law? Was it clearly explained that the law is intended to stop the thousands of immigrants — of all nationalities — pouring across the U.S. border in clear and knowing violation of U.S. law? Was it explained that, under the law, a person’s immigration status will be questioned only if he has already been stopped for some other violation?
The nations that signed the declaration were Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Turkey, Panama, Bolivia, Micronesia and Senegal. I wonder what their immigration laws look like. Do they have open borders and let all comers just walk in? Do they have requirements that foreign nationals carry passports or other identification or do they turn a blind eye to all that cumbersome, annoying paperwork? Do they hand out jobs and educations and medical and social services to anyone who shows up and asks for them?
Seriously, people, until I can walk into your country any time I want, without papers of any kind or any questions being asked, and be treated exactly like one of your citizens for the rest of my life, don’t go getting all huffy about U.S. immigration laws.