The Obama Watch

The Audacity Against Arizona

You might say the administration's contempt for rule of law is self-profiling.

By 7.14.10

One need not be a lawyer to recognize the audacity inherent in the arguments of the Obama Administration against the State of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer in its complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court.

The arguments presented in U.S. v. State of Arizona & Brewer are not grounded in constitutional consideration but rather are rooted in a litany of grievances unfettered by reason:

If allowed to go into effect, S.B. 1070's mandatory enforcement scheme will conflict with and undermine the federal government's careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives. For example, it will impose significant and counterproductive burdens on the federal agencies charged with enforcing the national immigration scheme, diverting resources and attention from the dangerous aliens who the federal government targets as its top enforcement priority. It will cause the detention and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants, and citizens who do not have or carry identification documents specified by the statute, or who otherwise will be swept into the ambit of S.B. 1070's "attrition through enforcement" approach.

When the DOJ argues that S.B. 1070 "will impose significant and counterproductive burdens on federal agencies" what they mean is that the ICE operated Law Enforcement Support Center in Williston, Vermont could get a lot more phone calls from Arizona. So it could blow the overtime budget of DHS. This is an administrative issue, not a constitutional one. Perhaps it will cause some inconvenience for the feds. But let us never confuse inconvenience with unconstitutionality.

The idea the Arizona law will cause "the detention and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants, and citizens who do not have or carry identification" is also absurd.

The last I checked, authorized visitors are required to carry passports and other travel documents. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Guide for New Immigrants states in explicit terms, "Carry proof of your permanent resident status at all times." So why does the Obama Administration deem this to be an undue burden?

Even if you are a citizen it is usually a good idea to carry some form of identification in public especially if you are operating a motor vehicle. But even if you are not driving, an I.D. comes in handy if you are entering a building, buying liquor, or opening a bank account. Carrying around identification is a matter of common sense. But common sense and audacity seldom collide in the real world. Back to the audacity:

S.B. 1070 (as amended) attempts to second guess federal policies and re-order federal priorities in the area of immigration enforcement and to directly regulate immigration and the conditions of an alien's entry and presence in the United States despite the fact that those subjects are federal domains and do not involve any legitimate state interest.

How is it that the presence of illegal immigrants in Arizona "does not involve any legitimate state interest" on the part of Arizona? Illegal immigration has resulted in Phoenix having the second highest incident rate of kidnappings in the world. Only Mexico City has more kidnappings and many of the kidnappings in Phoenix have connections to the drug trade in Mexico. If you stop the illegal immigration you stop the kidnappings. Yet the federal government is telling Arizona in front of the whole world it has no legitimate interest in maintaining public order on its streets. Now that's audacity.

But believe it or not, that's not the most audacious statement in the Obama Administration's lawsuit:

S.B. 1070 has subjected the United States to direct criticism by other countries and international organizations and has resulted in a breakdown in certain planned bilateral and multilateral arrangements on issues such as border security and disaster management.

Now one must suspect that much of the "direct criticism" comes from within the Obama Administration rather than foreign governments as evidenced this past May when Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner brought up the Arizona law during human rights discussions with China "early and often." But even if foreign governments and international organizations don't like the Arizona immigration law, the people of Arizona like it and so does the rest of the country.

A survey done by the Pew Research Center this spring found that nearly 60% of respondents favored the Arizona immigration law. It is worth noting that nearly as many Democrats polled supported the law as opposed it. Not surprisingly, half of all Americans polled by Gallup think the lawsuit against Arizona is a bad idea. During a meeting of the National Governors Association last weekend in Boston, Tennessee's Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen called the lawsuit "a toxic subject."

Yet the Obama Administration puts far more weight on the opinion of foreign governments and international organizations than the opinion of those it governs, including many of the people who voted it into office. Now governments of all stripes make decisions that are unpopular with large segments of the population. But for the Obama Administration to show such a naked contempt for public opinion in this country demonstrates it is not amenable to listening to the people who have to live with its policies, namely its indifference in securing the border with Mexico. If the Obama Administration put the kind of energy into securing the Mexican border that it's expended suing Arizona, then perhaps there would have no need for Arizona to have passed this law in the first place.

If one requires more evidence of the Obama Administration's contempt for American public opinion one only need consider Attorney General Eric Holder publicly stating he is considering filing a second lawsuit against the Arizona law on the grounds of racial profiling provided, of course, the Arizona law goes into effect. Naturally, Holder assumes law enforcement officials in Arizona will wantonly engage in racial profiling. Alas, the Obama Administration's audacity against Arizona knows no bounds.

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About the Author
Aaron Goldstein writes from Boston, Massachusetts.