General Question

ItsAHabit's avatar

Why Sue AZ but Not Illegal Sanctuaries?

Asked by ItsAHabit (2282 points ) July 7th, 2010

The United States Department of Justice has filed suit against the state of Arizona for having passed a law to enforce federal immigration laws. The Department doesn’t base its case on allegations that the law would be discriminatory but that it usurps federal authority.

Why hasn’t the DOJ filed suits against any of the jurisdictions that have passed sanctuary laws that are in clear and direct violation of federal immigration laws?

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60 Answers

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The whole thing is political. The Obama administration doen’t want certain immigration laws enforced. Their case may fail at the Supreme Court level, but it will be another administrations problem by then. Politics and logic rarely intersect.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Probably a few reasons. Sanctuary laws effect how the local PD do their job, not how the feds do theirs. Sanctuary laws have upsides. But mostly, it’s probably that where sanctuary laws are more of a discreet disobeying of a law, like employees surfing the internet at work, the AZ law trys to say that they’re the ones in power now, the new bosses in town.

josie's avatar

We are forgetting that this is all nothing more than a way to court favor with a large constituency, the “Hispanic” vote. By not taking legal action against sanctuary laws, the administration gains political favor with that constituency, and by suing AZ they also get the same political points. It certainly has absolutely nothing to do with the so called “rule of law” or the responsibility of the Federal government.

grumpyfish's avatar

Drop the bravado: Arizona passed a law claiming state jurisdiction for a federal crime. The DoJ is suing based on that.

The sanctuary laws simply say that local PD will not enforce a federal law that’s outside their jurisdiction anyway.

See the difference?

ChaoSS's avatar

Josie hit the nail on the head. Obama says he wants to reform the immigration issue but when a border state actually starts taking action because the Fed. Gov. just sits around because they know they can try to get more “Hispanics” to vote for them.

Personally, I hope Arizona stands up and fights this. This is states rights. You don’t like the law? Tough shit, this is Arizona and it was made by people living in Arizona. You can choose whether or not you like it in your own dam state. You know, this is America, with the whole States have rights to, you know?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@ChaoSS Absolutely, this is the U.S. We have this thing called the Constitution which delineates the powers of the federal government and state goverments, you know?

grumpyfish's avatar

ChaoSS: Amendment 10 is the problem here:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The DoJ feels that article 2 section 2 and Article 1 section 10 gives them federal power to enforce border issues. The fact that they are not currently enforcing their regulations doesn’t play into that discussion.

I do not know if the AZ law is constitutional or not, but simply because the federal government is not exercising a power does not mean that the states have the right to.

Nullo's avatar

@grumpyfish Out of curiosity, what is a state to do when the Federal government is slacking off at the state’s expense? I see this thing as Arizona saying that if the feds won’t get their act together, it’ll have to look after itself. I’m all but certain that it’s happened before.

grumpyfish's avatar

@Nullo I’m not sure—ultimately, I’m answering why AZ is being sued and not the states with sanctuary laws.

I believe the state can sue DoJ to enforce the immigration laws.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Has anyone actually read the Arizona law? Both the President and the U.S. Attorney General publicly admitted that they hadn’t read it at the time they were attacking it and misrepresenting it. Unfortunately, people tend to report as fact what other people say the law says. You can read the entire text of the statute at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/05/full-text-arizona-illegal-immigration-law-jan-brewer.html

The statute repeatedly states that it is to operate “to the extent permitted by federal law,” “consistent with federal law,” and similar phrases. It is intended to support rather than replace the enforcement of the federal law.

I’m unaware of any statute that gives the federal government exclusive power or authority to enforce the immigration law. To the contrary, federal, state and local governments have historically cooperated in enforcing laws. That has clearly existed in law at least since the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919 and the enabling legislation (the Volstead Act) made such cooperation explicit. The text of the Volstead Act, along with related material, can be read at http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/Volstead-Act.html

grumpyfish's avatar

@ItsAHabit Great Answer! I just read the law, and other than the document requirement, the law on its face is not too troublesome. The fact that any US citizen could be arrested for failing to carry documents proving their citizenship is incredibly troublesome.

The original question, however, was not about the law, but about why AZ was being sued and not states with the opposite laws. I’d be curious about your insights into that?

Nullo's avatar

I read it. Pretty funny that the opponents had’t actually read the sucker.

jaytkay's avatar

The Volstead Act was ruled unconstitutional upon repeal of prohibition, 77 years ago. And it was a disaster which caused more crime than it prevented.

Probably not a good basis for any argument today.

ItsAHabit's avatar

You are correct but the principle of federal-state cooperation in law enforcement appears to have been established in both law and practice by the Volstead Act. And my comment stated that shared responsibility had existed “at least since the Eighteenth Amendment.” In practice,federal and state law enforcement agencies routinely cooperate today in enforcing laws.

As I earlier stated “The statute repeatedly states that it is to operate “to the extent permitted by federal law,” “consistent with federal law,” and similar phrases. It is intended to support rather than replace the enforcement of the federal law.”

ipso's avatar

@ItsAHabit – thank you for the link!

@grumpyfish, regarding ID – the Supreme Court (Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court (2004) 542 U.S. 177) held that a state could make it a crime for a person to refuse to identify himself (i.e. name and address).

In contrast to Arizona, California does not have such a law, so refusing to give your ID (in California) is legal, however if an officer reasonably believes you’ve committed a criminal offense (e.g. ticket), they can haul you in to see a magistrate.

I believe it is a crime to give false information in all states.

In reading Article 1.10, and Article 2.2 of the Constitution, I’m not seeing how Arizona is excluded from identifying aliens. “Reprisal” is interesting though. I read “Attainder” as applicable to only American citizens.

The misspelling in the US Constitution is interesting (“Controul”) – I was not aware of that.

CaptainHarley's avatar

The Captain salutes: Arizona for standing up on its hind legs and telling the Feds that if they won’t enforce their own laws, then Arizona will!

I keep waiting for Texas to join them. : ))

ItsAHabit's avatar

As I read the Arizona law, it does not allow random stops of individuals for the purpose of determining if they are illegally in the U.S., but permits only secondary enforcement. That is, if a person has been stopped for reasonable cause in connection with some illegal action (speeding, robbing, etc.) and,if there is reasonable cause to suspect that they are in the U.S. illegally, they may then be required to produce identification.

ItsAHabit's avatar

As I read the law, it also permits people to sue and receive compensation if they are subsequently found to have had their rights violated; for example, if they were stopped simply because they looked Mexican.

Qingu's avatar

@ItsAHabit, you said,

“Both the President and the U.S. Attorney General publicly admitted that they hadn’t read it at the time they were attacking it and misrepresenting it.”

Source?

fundevogel's avatar

@josie & @ChaoSS There’s no reason to put the word “Hispanic” in scare quotes. Unless you doubt there is such a thing as Hispanics or Hispanic voters.

grumpyfish's avatar

@ItsAHabit The slippery slope argument applies there. Probable cause is generally easy to find if you want to look for it. I used to live in Alameda, CA—they were constantly picking people up on outstanding warrants from safety stops (e.g., taillight blown).

Case at point: If I’m stopped because it’s suspicious that I’m walking down the street after 10pm, and they decide I might be an illegal immigrant, they have the right to arrest me under the AZ law. They are not violating my rights by doing so.

@ipso Failure to identify one’s self (e.g., “I am Grumpy A. Fish, from One None Such Place, Schenectady, New York” ) vs. failure to present travelling papers identification are two very different things. Unless I’m mis-reading you.

plethora's avatar

@Qingu Reported repeatedly by various media sources shortly after the law was passed and Obama and Holder were mouthing off about it. Someone asked them the direct question as to whether they had read it. Reading it, apparently, had not occurred to them.

Qingu's avatar

@plethora, please provide a source.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Grumpy- The slippery slope argument also applies to the federal immigration law so I assume that you also oppose it. Fortunately, Arizona’s law additionally includes specific remedies for any abuse that might occur.

Why are you so adamantly opposed to laws designed to prohibit illegal immigration? Do you want a completely open border? If not, what is your solution?

Qingu's avatar

@ItsAHabit, do you have a source for your claim that Obama admitted he didn’t read the law?

If not, you should probably retract that statement, since it would appear to be BS.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Obama wasn’t asked, but Robert Gibbs implied that the president had read the law and then, after the issue was raised and time had passed, Gibbs claimed that the president had read it.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that Obama shot off about something without the facts. For example, remember his asserting, without the facts, that “the police acted stupidly”? A subsequent investigation found that both the police and the professor were equally to blame.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rH1FEcbi4A

http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/arizona-to-obama-read-the-damn-law/question-1028419/

May 19, 2010: “So earlier this week trouble-making reporters asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs if the Smoker in Chief, another strong critic of the state law, had…..read the legislation. And Gibbs said he thought Obama had asked his lawyers for information on the bill.
Which, of course, doesn’t really answer the question. It’s primo White House-speak for ‘probably not but I don’t want to admit it.’”
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/05/janet-napolitano-arizona-illegal-immigrants-jan-brewer.html

May 20, 2010: Obama has [by now] read the Arizona immigration law reported Gibbs
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/05/obama-has-read-the-arizona-immigration-law/1

The picture that emerges is that is of an administration that jumps to opinions without first getting or reading the facts. A logical conclusion is that the administration acts not on the basis of evidence but on political calculations.

ItsAHabit's avatar

I should have said that the president apparently hadn’t read the law and that his attorney general and other members of his administration (I hadn’t realized how many!) publicly admitted they had not read the law although they had stated their objections and opposition to it.

Qingu's avatar

Nothing you cited shows the president hadn’t read the law, or that members of the administration tasked with forming policy on the subject did not.

Stop making shit up, please.

plethora's avatar

@Qingu Google this “AZ law holder obama did not read it”

Multiple sources

Qingu's avatar

So cite one. Copy and paste the link here. Why should I do your homework for you?

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu Here, around the 1:40 mark, we have Holder admitting that he hadn’t at that point read the bill. This video finds Janet Napolitano guilty of the same prejudice.
I don’t know if Barry’s read it yet or not.

Qingu's avatar

Can’t watch videos at work. What is the date of those videos?

I am assuming this is before Obama, et all sued AZ to remove the law, yes?

Nullo's avatar

Datestamp on the Holder video says May 13th. The article accompanying the Napolitano video was published on May 17th, the video was likely shot a day or so before.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Quingu- Simply click on my links for what you have requested.

Qingu's avatar

@ItsAHabit, I did. Your links do not support what you claimed.

@Nullo, what exactly do they say in these videos? “I haven’t read the law in detail yet, but the summary of it concerns me?”

plethora's avatar

@Qingu “my work” is not to spoon feed you. I figured you’d wanna bitch about just one reference, so I gave you a slew of them.

Bottom line, no one could be more biased than your liberal buddies. Nor do they have the sense not to go public before they know what they’re talking about.

Qingu's avatar

@plethora, your work, if you are an honest person, is to try to base your claims on facts. And if someone asks you to substantiate one of your claims, you should be able to back it up.

My job is not to back up the apparently random things you choose to say on this site.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Quingu- The videos provide audio and visual support for the fact that top administration officials had not read the bill (which is very short and easy to read) before criticizing it. The video of Eric Holder is actually embarrassing; I feel sorry for him because he looks so pathetically foolish. On the other hand, the video composed by Arizona’s governor is humorous, although it also provides damning evidence against administration officials.

Qingu's avatar

I still have yet to watch the videos. It would be nice if you can find a transcription of them.

Also, I’m curious… I seem to remember you criticizing the health reform bill a lot this past year. Did you read it?

ItsAHabit's avatar

Quingu- You admit that you haven’t viewed the materials on our materials so how can you honestly insist that they don’t support the fact that top administration officials criticized, even attacked the bill without even reading it. You must be part of the administration! :-)))

I can also provide evidence that the president clearly misrepresented the bill. Therefore, he either hadn’t read it, didn’t understand it, or intentionally tried to mislead the American public. None of those reasons is acceptable for a president. I think that misrepresenting it to the the public would worse than not having read it.

I haven’t read the health care bill and so far as I know, neither has the president. I do know that Nancy Pelosi said that we needed to pass the legislation so we could see what was in it!!!

plethora's avatar

@Qingu Sorry…didnt realize you had a problem digesting all that. You asked for the sources I referenced and I gave you several. Stop whining.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The problem with the AZ law will be in how it will ultimately end up as a dragnet to haul in anyone who some not look White enough to be a real American. It is designed to create fear and effect persecution under the guise of the rule of law. Fortunately the fallout will reach a peak around the time of the next Presidential election. The Republicans will come off looking like modern-day neo-Nazis and the Democrats will benefit greatly.

Qingu's avatar

@ItsAHabit, have you ever criticized the health bill? I’d appreciate a direct answer.

@plethora, you gave me a total of zero sources in this entire question. Nullo supplied the relevant source, which I have yet to view.

plethora's avatar

@Qingu Minimum age to be on Fluther is, I think, 13. You’re legal aren’t you?

ItsAHabit's avatar

Why has the federal government filed suit against the state of Arizona for a law designed to enforce federal law while not filing suit against jurisdictions that have passed sanctuary laws that harbor illegal aliens?

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Please get back to the original topic. If you wish to debate other issues surrounding the law, please start a new thread.

ItsAHabit's avatar

I originally posed the question: Why has the federal government filed suit against the state of Arizona for a law designed to enforce federal law while not filing suit against jurisdictions that have passed sanctuary laws that harbor illegal aliens?

Kudos to josie for what appears to be the most credible explanation: We are forgetting that this is all nothing more than a way to court favor with a large constituency, the “Hispanic” vote. By not taking legal action against sanctuary laws, the administration gains political favor with that constituency, and by suing AZ they also get the same political points. It certainly has absolutely nothing to do with the so called “rule of law” or the responsibility of the Federal government.

And thanks to everyone else for suggesting explanations.

jaytkay's avatar

@ItsAHabit Kudos to josie for what appears to be the most credible explanation…by suing AZ they also get the same political points [with HIspanic voters]

Most credible if you see the world in tribal race-against-race terms.

Millions of non-hispanic voters support the administration on this.

fundevogel's avatar

@ItsAHabit “We are forgetting that this is all nothing more than a way to court favor with a large constituency, the “Hispanic” vote.”

You too with the misused scare quotes? Do you really doubt the existence of Hispanic voters or are these really just sneer quotes?

Nullo's avatar

@jaytkay It’s still gonna make the Federal government more popular with Hispanic voters, though, and with the supportive non-Hispanics.

jaytkay's avatar

@Nullo

You assume something which pleases Hispanic voters is inherently bad? Telling.

“Hispanic voters and…the supportive non-Hispanics” are, you know, voters.

See my comment above about seeing the world in tribal terms.

Nullo's avatar

@jaytkay No, those are your words, pal.

I don’t like it when they do things to please voters specifically in order to get their votes. Call me an idealist, if you like. The stench of such an obvious bribe detracts from their already wispy atmosphere of credibility and genuinity.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Both Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to enforce federal immigration laws. Could there be any reason other than politics?

jaytkay's avatar

It’s still gonna make the Federal government more popular with Hispanic voters

I don’t like it when they do things to please voters

Those are not my words.

Well, we can’t be pleasing Hispanic voters, now, can we? They may be US citizens of but it’s not like they’re real Americans.

Say we pass a federal law, making it a crime to be in public without proof of citizenship or immigration status. How would that go over?

That is the essence of the Arizona law. You don’t have to be a “Hispanic voter” to be repulsed.

ItsAHabit's avatar

I didn’t ask about the AZ law. I asked why the federal government, under both Democratic and Republican administrations has consistently failed to enforce the federal immigration laws.

Can anyone answer that (preferably without attacking AZ, Democrats or Republicans)????

Nullo's avatar

@jaytkay You did it again, divorcing my words from their context. I said (and even used emphasis italics!) specifically in order to get their votes.

“You assume something which pleases Hispanic voters is inherently bad? Telling” are the words that you tried to put into my mouth.

jaytkay's avatar

@Nullo OK, my apologies for quoting you that way.

What I still dispute is the idea that opposing the AZ law is pandering to voters.

For example, police and clergy who have also sued Arizona are not pandering to voters.

And just like the police and clergy and millions of normal people who oppose the law, elected officials oppose it on constitutional grounds (the federal lawsuit) and moral grounds (which are irrelevant to the lawsuit).

ItsAHabit's avatar

Should the states that are most harmed by illegal immigration costs (education, medical, health, social welfare, etc.) sue the federal government for refusing to enforce the laws that it won’t let them enforce?

jaytkay's avatar

@ItsAHabit Sorry we thread-jacked you, but since you are asking almost the same question on a daily basis, I think we can call this one dead and move on to your most recent.

http://www.fluther.com/90193/should-states-sue-feds-for-damages/

Nullo's avatar

@jaytkay The primary concern of the elected is to get re-elected. Politicians have historically demonstrated this to be true, and they show no signs of stopping. I find it difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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