16 12 / 2011

Supreme Court will review Arizona immigration law

Earlier this week the Supreme Court announced that it would review whether the Arizona anti-immigration law is preempted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (the INA). We’ve discussed what’s involved with preemption on Law for the People in some detail. Check out this five part primer on exactly what states can do about immigration:

11.07.2011 - 11.11.2011 - How can states regulate immigration? A five part series.  Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart V.

The Ninth Circuit & district court upheld a preliminary injunction on Arizona’s law — which means it won’t be enforced until and unless the court upholds the law as valid and constitutional — because the law was, at least in part, likely to be preempted by federal law.

There are two main reasons the court found that the INA might preempt Arizona’s law. One is the threat of 50 states layering separate immigration enforcement rules on top of the INA. Two, Congress said, in the INA, that “State and local officers shall be directed by the Attorney General.” The court found that this means that state laws can’t tell state and local officers how to enforce the INA - only the AG can do that.

The name of Arizona’s harsh anti-immigration law is, incidentally, “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. It’s unclear whether the Supreme Court will also answer the question of how Arizona manages to come up with such sneaky and clever names for laws that do mean things, while the federal government puts together laws called “Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996" and the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.”

Clearly Arizona has something to teach us.  Probably just not something about enforcing immigration laws.