Should the Justice Dept fight California's "Anti-Arizona" bill?

In partial response to Arizona’s stance on immigration, a bill has been introduced in the California state legislature that, among other things, would limit local law enforcement’s participation in the Secure Communities program, a program of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. (ICE)

Tom Ammiano, the bill’s sponsor has this to say about Secure Communities:

from here.

Given that the Justice Department sued the state of Arizona for interfering with foreign policy because “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country”, should the Justice Department move to have the courts strike down the California law (if it should pass) on the same basis? Does blocking local police from referring a detainee to immigration officials unless the person has committed a felony rise to the level of “developing a patchwork of immigration policies”?

IMO, it does. If Arizona is going to have to follow US immigration law (and they should) then so should California. If the ICE chooses to disband or alter the Secure Communities program, that’s fine. Until they do, California should comply with it.

Interesting observation. I think you’re right, that the feds need to treat this akin to the AZ law. I hope they don’t though. And California unwittingly gives AZ a card to play in court in subsequent proceedings. THAT would be sweet.

I am not sure what the quote really means.

From the ICE web site:

Certainly this is not California making its own immigration law. Question is to what extent is local law enforcement compelled to work with federal agencies? According to the above not much in this case it seems.

Are states actually obligated by law to participate in Secure Communities?

Not sure there is a definitive answer. From wikipedia:

California should also stop cooperating with the feds on drug enforcement and interdiction. Of course, if they did that, all of a sudden we’d hear about how states must help the feds enforce the law. Except for immigration, which states must not help too much with because the feds don’t actually want to enforce it.

It’s interesting that California already has done that to some degree with respect to medical marijuana. California authorities follow the California law with respect to authorized possession and distribution, even though the fed law says otherwise.

Drug laws and immigration are two very different things.

I would think it is apparent on the face of it that it would be a mess if each state could promulgate their own immigration statutes. Immigration into the US is distinctly in the realm of the federal government. Of course how those laws are enforced (who does what and who pays for what) are a matter of much debate.

Drug laws and their enforcement get into a much grayer area. Where immigration law is easy to see as a matter for the federal government drug laws are nowhere near as clear that a bright line exists between the states and the feds.

The goal of the bill is to “curb deportations”. Given that deportation is done at the discretion of the ICE, I don’t see how this bill can be seen as anything other than (developing) “a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country” which was what Arizona was charged with.

Imagine what could come about if states were allowed to set their own immigration rules willy-nilly.

John: “Are you going to be able to make the meeting in New York next week? Did you buy your bus tickets yet?”
Bill: "No, actually. See the problem is that I got denied a visa to enter New Jersey, and the bus and train routes go straight through. I’m gonna have to drive to Philly and then drive up PA until I reach Upstate New York, then drive around. But I’m a little nervous because my sister said that Pennslvania Immigration will revoke a visa for a single speeding ticket, so it’s like I have to walk on a tightrope nowadays.

It’s a grayer area only if you want it to be a grayer area. States either have to bow to federal laws or do they do not.

I think that can be distinguished from what Arizona/California is doing. The rules are the same everywhere, you just have a greater chance of getting caught in certain states. It would be like if we had a national 55mph speed limit again and most states didn’t enforce it until 65mph, but Arizona decided to ticket people for 56mph and the feds started raising hell over it.

If the feds don’t like it, they should make it 65 nationally, or else let Arizona enforce the 55 law.

They aren’t creating a law, they are enforcing the existing law.

No they’re not. As the Feds constantly remind states, Federal Law trumps State law with regard to statute and enforcement. They can’t have it both ways. If the Feds don’t want the states to enforce immigration laws, they shouldn’t expect then to enforce Federal drug laws either.

Strawman. Arizona did not have their own immigration policy. They simply chose to enforce laws the Feds did not want enforced.

No. Just no. The Supremacy Clause applies only where state and federal laws conflict, or where federal law “occupies the field”. Congress has occupied the field of immigration law, and the Constitution explicitly gives it complete control over foreign affairs. Congress has not occupied the field of drug law, so states are free to regulate as they choose provided their laws do not conflict with the federal law in the area. To the extent that California chooses not to prosecute certain drug crimes under its own law, there is no conflict. If it were trying to shield its citizens from federal prosecution, that would be a problem.

Once the DHS decides whether the Secure Communities program is optional - something it seems to be having trouble doing - we’ll know whether states must comply.

I haven’t looked too closely into this, but I think there are several cases in which state officials cannot be forced to take action in order to enforce federal laws. For example, states are not subject to the anti-discrimination laws (unless the discrimination in question relates to a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, like racial discrimination) or the Americans With Disabilities Act, and I believe that in the recent health care decision, the Supreme Court said that state government cannot be forced to expand Medicare in order to comply with federal law. If my loose recollection of these decisions is accurate, then it seems to me that state officials cannot be forced to participate in Secure Communities.

They can be “forced” to the extent that they can have federal law enforcement funding withdrawn.

It kind of did. It made being an illegal or paperless immigrant in Arizona a state crime.

I know this wasn’t directed at me, but this is where I see the distinction. If Arizona had set higher or lower immigration standards and made that a state crime, then that would run afoul of the national scheme.

But they are making exactly the same federal restrictions a state criminal offense. I can’t see how that interferes with a common national system of immigration. If you are breaking the Arizona law, then you are also in any of the other 49 states illegally.

IOW, Should the Arizona authorities not be able to arrest counterfeiters, or people who steal mail, on the idea that those are federal prerogatives?

What Arizona is doing is changing how they determine if you are a counterfeiter or steal mail (to go with the analogy).

It’d be like the police pulling you aside while walking down the street and telling you that you need to show them all the money you are carrying so they can ascertain if you are a counterfeiter.

First of all, they do, because being in the US without authorization in itself isn’t a federal crime.

Of course they can. But they can’t prosecute someone for counterfeiting or mail fraud. State and local police already have the authority to arrest and detain people who have are illegally here. See 9:1918 of the US Attorney’s Manual, titled “Arrest of Illegal Allians by State and Local Officers”.