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
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
individuals detained by Arizona.” Schneiderman claims “this would divert
from the priority areas set by Congress, including protecting the public
from dangerous felons and terrorists, not only in Arizona but
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.