Once again, Arizona stands tall.
Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, has signed an executive order forbidding any state agency from treating illegal-alien recipients of the Obama amnesty as lawful residents for purposes of state benefits and public services.
Americans who have been waiting for some congressional action to block the Obama decree will applaud Gov. Brewer’s action. Unlike House Speaker Republican John Boehner, Arizona is not intimidated by Obama’s unconstitutional usurpation of congressional authority to make new immigration law.
Gov. Brewer issued that executive order on the same day Obama’s new “deferred deportation” policy took effect. Brewer is drawing a line in the sand with regard to the amnesty’s impact on the Arizona budget. Brewer in effect is saying, “All right, Mr. President, you won’t deport them, but we don’t have to treat them the same as legal immigrants.”
But thus far, no one has noticed that there might be more at stake in this challenge than a change in Arizona’s budget outlays. What may be at stake is the legality (and thus, the sustainability) of Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty decree.
Brewer’s order certainly will be challenged immediately in federal court by Obama’s Justice Department, and the case will end up in front of the 9th Circuit and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court. That would be a good thing – for two reasons.
Taking this challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court achieves two important goals. First, it will give that court an opportunity to rethink and improve upon its June decision establishing a novel and self-contradictory doctrine of federal pre-emption of immigration law. In that June ruling, the Supreme Court denied to Arizona the right to assist or supplement federal enforcement of immigration law even when the same federal government has decided – for foreign policy reasons! – NOT to enforce that law.
That perverse doctrine of pre-emption is profoundly antithetical to the cornerstone principle of federalism, and it needs to be challenged and overturned. But there is a second reason to hope the Obama administration is foolish enough to take Arizona to court again.
To make a winnable case in defense of its actions, Arizona must argue that not only is the state within its rights to take this action, but the Obama-Napolitano “deferred deportation” administrative amnesty is itself illegal because it directly contradicts the expressed will of Congress. I say “expressed will of Congress” because Congress has five times in the past decade, and most recently in December of 2010, rejected the “Dream Act,” which is the template for the Obama decree.
This is an important legal point because of Justice Kennedy’s reasoning in his June decision expanding the doctrine of federal pre-emption of state law. Kennedy said there needs to be some explicit congressional action as the basis for a federal-state partnership in enforcing any particular immigration law. Thus, Congress’ explicit rejection of the “Dream Act” is an adequate basis for Arizona’s authority to disallow Obama’s administrative overturning of that act of Congress.
For these reasons, a challenge to Arizona’s obstruction of the Obama amnesty should not be feared; it should be welcomed and celebrated. Moreover, other states should follow Arizona’s example and should start preparing to join in Arizona’s defense.
Arizona was compelled to take this action for many reasons, not the least of which is fiscal necessity. If the Obama amnesty program is fully implemented without challenge, states will have to offer these 2 million or more illegal aliens – and you can bet the number will grow because of widespread document fraud – all the same privileges and benefits afforded to legal immigrants: driver’s licenses, in-state college tuition, Medicaid enrollment, unemployment compensation and so forth.
Arizona, like many states, is struggling to balance its budget, having raised the state sales tax to do so. Adding this new burden on the state’s taxpayers by federal decree – and doing it for transparent partisan political reasons – is anathema to a majority of Arizona’s citizens. Gov. Brewer is acting in the interest of Arizona taxpayers, and her actions will be hugely popular.
Will other governors step forward and join Arizona? Which Republican governor will be the first to join her? Will citizens demand that they do so?
Yes, Arizona stands tall in rejecting Obama’s illegal amnesty decree. Now would be a good time for other Americans to join that battle.