The Justice Department Plays a Losing Hand—Again
Hans von Spakovsky /
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an appeal today with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of a federal district court’s decision refusing to issue an injunction against major portions of Alabama’s new immigration law.
On September 28, Judge Sharon Blackburn upheld most of Alabama’s law, including a requirement that police officers check the immigration status of individuals stopped, detained, or arrested when they have a reasonable suspicion that the individual is unlawfully present in the United States.
The inherent right of state and local police officers to make immigration arrests has been upheld by numerous other courts of appeal, including the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and 10th Circuits. Even a unanimous Supreme Court recognized the authority of local police officers to inquire into the immigration status of individuals who have been lawfully detained in 2005 in Muehler v. Mena. This makes DOJ’s challenge even more unwarranted and dubious.
Judge Blackburn also upheld a requirement that schools report on the immigration status of their students, as well as another provision barring illegal aliens from contracting with the state government or state courts from enforcing contracts with illegal aliens.
DOJ was unable to challenge Alabama’s new requirement that employers use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of new employees or a provision that allows the business license of an employer to be revoked for knowingly hiring illegal aliens. An identical provision in an Arizona law passed in 2007 was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in its last term in Whiting v. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. DOJ was on the wrong side of the Whiting case, too, and was handed a resounding defeat by the Court.
The appeal itself is deceptive, since DOJ claims that it is suing because the Alabama law “is highly likely to expose persons lawfully in the United States, including school children, to new difficulties in routine dealings.” This is a highly misleading claim.
The Obama Administration seems unconcerned over individuals legally in this country since the practical effect of the Obama DOJ’s lawsuit against Alabama (and Arizona) if it succeeds will be to prevent enforcement of our federal immigration laws. That would ensure that states extend the same type of general amnesty to illegal aliens that the Administration has implemented in the executive branch without legislative authorization by not enforcing federal immigration laws.
DOJ’s claim that Alabama’s law disrupts diplomatic relationships is a sign of the Administration’s unwillingness to defend American sovereignty—no country has the right to require the U.S. to accept illegal immigrants. The DOJ appeal is also very revealing since the Administration objects that the Alabama law prevents illegal aliens from being able to “lawfully obtain housing, enforce a contract, or send their children to school without fear that enrollment will be used as a tool to seek to detain and remove them and their family members.”
In other words, the Obama Administration believes that illegal aliens have the right to live, work, contract, and go to school in the U.S. without being detained, removed, or deported—in complete contradiction of federal law.
Of course, the advantage of DOJ’s appeal is that it will hopefully put Alabama’s immigration law on a faster track to being upheld by the 11th Circuit and eventually the Supreme Court. Given the Holder DOJ’s losing track record in the Supreme Court on immigration issues, it is highly likely that most of Alabama’s approach, if not all, will eventually be upheld by the Supremes.
In the meantime, there is already evidence that the Alabama law is working and causing illegal aliens to self-deport. Alabama officials (and taxpayers) are faced with enormous, un-reimbursed expenses caused by illegal aliens in education, health care, and incarceration costs. They are surely happy to see those who have violated federal law (and have taken jobs away from citizens) head for states like California, which have been made virtual sanctuaries by their legislators and governors.
It is doubtful, however, that the taxpayers of those states, who have to pay billions of dollars for benefits for illegal aliens, will be very happy about the added burden they are going to incur.