Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is having quite a day. As Todd Gaziano explains, a federal district court denied the U.S. Justice Department’s request that the court dismiss the lawsuit Cuccinelli filed on behalf of the citizens of Virginia against the unconstitutional mandates in Obamacare.
News also broke today that Cuccinelli issued an official advisory opinion on July 30 that was another shot across the bow of the Obama Administration in the ongoing fight over enforcement of federal immigration laws.
In response to an inquiry from a state representative, Cuccinelli advised all Virginia law enforcement officers that, just like Arizona police officers, they can “inquire into the immigration status of persons stopped or arrested.” Moreover, local officers can arrest any individual who has “violated a criminal law of the United States, including a criminal violation of the immigration laws.”
Unlike the specious “legal” opinion issued by Judge Susan Bolton in the Arizona immigration case, Cuccinelli’s opinion is fully in accord with federal immigration law and prior court decisions that have held that local police officers can inquire into the immigration status of individuals they lawfully detain or arrest. On the ability to arrest those who have criminally violated federal immigration laws, Cuccinelli very pointedly explains that “it would be most surprising if state and local officers lacked the authority…to arrest individuals suspected of committing federal crimes.” If they did, then local law enforcement would have “to stand idly by and allow” bank robbers, kidnappers, or terrorists who have violated federal law “to proceed with impunity.” Why should criminal violators of federal immigration laws be somehow different? That is, of course, a ridiculous claim, although it has not prevented pro-illegal aliens groups and their spokesmen from criticizing Cuccinelli’s opinion.
In the heart of the opinion, Cuccinelli makes it very clear that Virginia police “have the same authority to make the same inquiries as those contemplated by the new Arizona law. So long as the officers have the requisite level of suspicion to believe that a violation of the law has occurred, the officers may detain and briefly question a person they suspect has committed a federal crime.” The real problem, of course, will be if the federal government then refuses to pick up and deport illegal aliens who have been found by local police—an unfortunate problem that illustrates the importance of having someone in the White House who understands the President’s constitutional obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
We should never forget that this issue has real consequences: two teenagers in Virginia Beach were killed in 2007 by a drunken illegal alien who rammed their car at a stoplight. He had been previously arrested and convicted for public drunkenness and DUI—if local police had checked his immigration status after those prior arrests and the federal government had picked him up and deported him back to Mexico, those two girls would likely be alive today.
Hopefully, not only will local police officers in Virginia use the authority that Attorney General Cuccinelli has given them, but other state attorneys general will follow his lead and issue similar opinions. The Justice Department and the Obama Administration need to be confronted by states contesting their ill-advised and dangerous policy of not fully enforcing our immigration laws.