Court ruling against Arizona immigration law is a warning to Illinois and other states


Jan Brewer

An appeals court this week upheld a lower court ruling blocking some of the most strict parts of Arizona's anti-immigration law. This is a blow to politicians like Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer, who vowed to keep fighting.

The court's rationale is that immigration law is federal, not state or local.

"That 50 individual states or one individual state should have a foreign policy is absurdity too gross to be entertained," wrote Judge John Noonan.
This isn't really a surprise as previous attempts by states or municipalities to enforce immigration laws have not survived lower court challenges.

Remember Farmer's Branch, Texas?

In 2006, it was the first town in the nation to pass an ordinance to prohibit landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants.  Last year, a federal judge ruled it to be unconstitutional for the second time. The court battle has cost that town more than $3.2 million, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Does Arizona want to spend millions to defend this law?

The question is whether this Arizona law will make it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. I hope that it does and that the court will strike it down.

That would hopefully stem the plethora of state proposed immigration legislation including  Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and even Illinois.

In 2010, 46 state legislatures and the District of Columbia enacted 208 immigration-related laws and adopted 138 resolutions for a total of 346, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

According to the NCSL, in 2005, 300 bills were introduced, 39 laws were enacted and six were vetoed. So there has been a dramatic increase is state immigration laws.

In Illinois, an immigration bill, HB 1879, whose main sponsor is State Rep. Bill Mitchell would force employers to check the federal employment eligibility of new hires.

It was fiercely debated Thursday morning in the state legislature, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Democrats could not stop a committee vote.

Another Illinois bill, HB1969, proposed by State Rep. Randy Ramey is like Arizona's law and would allow police to ask about a person's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that person is undocumented.

Lawmakers in Illinois should pay attention to what is happening in Arizona so they don't wind up passing laws that will only wind up in court and cost the state millions to defend.


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