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U.S. Supreme court draws line in immigration enforcement

Editor’s note: This letter is in response to a story in the June 29 edition of the Arizona Capitol Times: “Road Blocked: Future illegal immigration legislation murky after Supreme Court ruling.”

The U.S. Supreme Court drew the line in what is and is not a state’s role in immigration enforcement in both the Legal Arizona Workers Act (Employer Sanctions) and SB1070 opinions.

That some legislators don’t see where those distinctions lie is not surprising. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

The simple and plain truth is that “attrition through enforcement” strategies have not only failed as public policy for years (e.g., job loss, economic damage, reputation damage, inability to attract labor, increased social service costs, etc.), they are now also unconstitutional.

We’ve tried it their way in different cities, counties and states, and it doesn’t work. It is time to hang up the “enforcement first” strategy and deal with the problem holistically and sensibly, as we should have been doing all along. The Supreme Court said the problem needs to be addressed through Congress, nowhere else.

The question we should be asking Arizona’s congressional delegation and candidates is, now that you know what doesn‘t work, what’s your solution? We hope we get an answer soon and that it isn’t more of the same. That would be a disservice to us all.

— Todd Landfried, executive director, Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform


  1. The enforcement first approach method of dealing with illegal aliens has NOT been adequately applied to correct this country’s illegal alien problem. The assumption by the author of this posting is false and very misleading. If enforcement is being adequately applied why are there 12 million plus illegal aliens in this country? Why are illegal aliens crossing our borders in the hundreds of thousands every year? Why do some states, counties and cities adopt sanctuary policies if enforcement first methods are being applied adequately? Lastly if enforcements first methods are being adequately applied, why doesn’t the federal government sue those state and local governments for interfering with federal immigration laws as they did to Arizona? There are too many reasonable things not being done to enforce immigration laws. How about we start adequately enforcing the immigration laws?

  2. Response to landaddy, and the only one that’s really needed. Because we live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” not a neo-replica of Nazi Germany. Dig it! Besides, don’t you know that immigration is way off these days? Check it out. “It’s the economy, stupid!” Prospective job seekers know when they should just move on to the next location, wherever that may be. Okay, that’s two.

  3. @JCforpennies; first just because we live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” doesn’t mean that we live in a land without LAWS. And what’s with the Nazi Germany reference? Is it the most extreme example you could come up with to try to make a point? Germany is not the only country to have laws. In this country there are no laws that punish people based on their skin color or their religion. Second, while I understand that businesses break the laws every day that is supposed to be the exception not the rule. Since you think the economy is the most important thing why don’t you push to bring back child labor? I’m sure you could make a profit off of their little backs. Money is important but I was raised to believe that ethics are more important. From reading your posting I can see that you were raised with a different set of values.

  4. I’m still waiting for Bush’s guest worker program. Where is it?

  5. In response to landaddy001; your primary assumption is that the existing laws are good laws, meaning they are enforceable, just, Constitutional, solve the problem and are easy to follow. The reality is federal and state immigration laws are simply not good law. They’re either outdated, poorly crafted, unconstitutional, or some combination thereof. Besides, the cost of enforcing bad laws will always be more expensive than fixing them.

    SB1070 is bad law because it is unconstitutional (SCOTUS said so), is unenforceable (SCOTUS said so), poorly crafted and every bit of available research shows it does more harm than good economically, socially and legally. See our presentations on SlideShare for more info: http://www.slideshare.net/azeir_org/

    That being true, spreading it around the entire country is not going to make it any more successful or any more Constitutional. It doesn’t work. It’s not a viable option anymore. So what’s your Plan B?

    “Plan B” must include other reforms to make it easier for employers to find workers, allow workers to enter legally and with full documentation ALONG WITH enforcement measures. Once you address the labor demand in a reasonable manner, nearly every other problem people complain about goes away because they have legal status.

    No one is suggesting that enforcement shouldn’t be part of the solution. We are suggesting that history proves conclusively that enforcement ALONE does nothing to solve the problem. It much be more comprehensive.

  6. Todd I have read your posting and I still disagree with your point of view. The majority of the current immigration laws were written back in 1986 during President Reagan’s administration. I believe that President Clinton made some changes in 1996 too. My point is this country had an illegal alien problem back in the mid to late eighties (about 3 million illegal aliens) and the current immigration laws were considered a comprehensive fix at that time. No one said that the new immigration laws were unconstitutional, unreasonable, or too expensive at the time that they were written. Not everyone agreed but these laws were considered workable. Amnesty was given to the law breakers with the promise to the American people that a similar forgiveness for this type of law breaking would not be given again. So history doesn’t demonstrate that enforcement only will not work. During President Eisenhower’s administration enforcement only worked. If history demonstrates anything, it’s that the current immigration laws were NEVER ADIQUATELY enforced! Presently a lot of businesses ignored the immigration laws, the federal government did little to enforce the laws and the illegal aliens came into this country in larger numbers than before. Now you and a whole lot of other people want new immigration laws. How does any reasonable person trust the federal government to adequately enforce any new immigration laws when they won’t adequately enforce the ones already on the books? Also how about the message all of this law breaking sends to the rest of the country? If you want a humanitarian comprise how about this; all the immigration law breakers can apply to stay as permanent residents after paying a fine for ALL the legal violations committed (i.e.: document fraud, identity theft, forgery, illegal entry, working without permission, etc.). After their legal history has been documented and all fines paid, they can apply for permanent residents’ status but no US citizenship ever for anyone who violated the immigration laws. That way the people get their pound of flesh, the law breakers get to stay (if they qualify) and the government gets a chance to restore the people’s confidence by doing their jobs, at least adequately.

  7. Todd, I do consider the current federal immigration laws fair and workable (as long as they are adequately enforced). As a country, in each state and territory we institute laws to govern ourselves through our elected representatives. These laws are violated by citizens, permanent residents and illegal aliens every day. Many people go unpunished for their legal violations. That doesn’t mean the laws are unworkable, outdated or unfair. I have no problem with reasonable immigration laws; I just don’t agree that “comprehensive immigration reform” as currently defined is reasonable or fair to the American people. Comprehensive immigration reform seems set up to largely benefit the very (business and illegal aliens) people violating the current immigration laws.

  8. How many more American citizens of all ethnicities must die because of illegal
    It’s about the numbers–it’s about the numbers.
    Mexico needs to help and employ it’s own citizens.
    We in the USA are not responsible for Mexico’s citizens.
    We have citizens in this country who go to bed hungry every night.
    We must limit legal immigration into this country.
    Now is the time to save our country. Now is the time to stop
    illegal immigration and limit legal immigration.

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