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Suing Arizona—What Choice is There?

From my Op-Ed today in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

There is no surprise in the Obama Administration’s lawsuit to stop enforcement of Arizona’s immigration law–SB 1070. President Obama must defend federal authority to act exclusively on immigration law. The Supreme Court has long held that states cannot impinge on federal authority, unless those state laws are “consistent” with Federal law. Arizona’s SB 1070 is not consistent with federal law, despite protestations to the contrary. SB 1070 goes far beyond that 1940 law on which it claims to be based and which was designed to round up Japanese, German and other “enemies“ in a time of war.

Everyone understands the frustrations associated with undocumented immigration. But the Obama Administration (nor any Administration) cannot tolerate 50 different states passing 50 different state laws on a federal issue like immigration. It is already a nightmare in the context of E-Verify. If President Obama does not act, he gives tacit approval to the notion that states can pass conflicting and impossible to fairly enforce immigration related laws. By going to Federal court he signals that SB 1070 encroaches on federal immigration law. Faced with this choice, there is no choice at all.

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