New York AG Chimes In On Arizona's Breathing While Brown Immigration Law

The constitutionality of Arizona's controversial immigration law currently is being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court -- and for some reason New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman decided to chime in in the form of a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the SCOTUS this morning.

If you're unfamiliar with SB 1070 -- Arizona's controversial law -- it basically gives local law enforcement agencies in Arizona the authority to ask the immigration status of its citizens and enforce federal immigration laws. Unfortunately for Arizona, enforcing immigration laws is the responsibility of the federal government -- not the states -- and there in lies the problem.

"The Arizona law improperly displaces and supplants federal authority over the removal of undocumented immigrants, a subject that the Constitution leaves to Congress, and that Congress delegated to the discretion and exclusive oversight of federal executive officials. This measure obstructs and impedes federal efforts to establish national priorities for the removal of undocumented immigrants," Schneiderman says.

He goes on to say that "Overzealous and indiscriminate attempts to identify and remove undocumented immigrants also pose many risks for civil-rights violations--risks that spill over to legal residents. Enforcement measures targeted at 'removable' immigrants--such as documentation checks or other investigatory measures--therefore threaten to sweep in many legal immigrants and U.S. citizens who simply share the same race, ethnicity, or cultural markers as undocumented immigrants common to a particular area."

So, how is challenging an Arizona law any of the New York attorney general's business? Well, aside from it being a nice feather in Schneiderman's cap come election time in a "progressive" state like New York, the AG claims that because New York has a large population of both legal and illegal immigrants, it's his job to make sure laws like SB 1070 don't spread to the Empire State (Arizona-esque laws already have been proposed in several other -- mostly "red" -- states).

Schneiderman also claims that if states are allowed to come up with their own immigration policies, other states will be effected because the federal government will be bothered with the tasks of responding to "Arizona officers' information requests and determin[ing] what to do with individuals detained by Arizona." Schneiderman claims "this would divert federal resources from the priority areas set by Congress, including protecting the public from dangerous felons and terrorists, not only in Arizona but elsewhere."

Those in favor of Arizona's law argue that the federal government has failed to enforce immigration laws -- which has led to an invasion of illegal immigrants in Southwester states -- and if the feds won't do the job, the state will.

Schneiderman's entered New York into a coalition of 11 states -- which also includes California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont -- publicly opposing Arizona's law.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on Arizona's law by the end of June. Read Schneiderman's brief here.

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