Friday, August 12, 2011

Arizona appeals immigration ruling to Supreme Court

Gov. Jan Brewer wants to revive the state's controversial immigration law, SB 1070

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer appealed to the Supreme Court to revive the state's disputed immigration policing law, seeking a ruling that could free states to take aggressive enforcement action against illegal immigrants.

"Arizona bears the brunt of the problems caused by illegal immigration [and] is the gateway to nearly half of the nation's illegal border crossings," said former Solicitor General Paul Clement on behalf of the state.

Clement, who served during the George W. Bush administration, urged the justices Wednesday to rebuke the Obama administration for its "extraordinary step" of intervening in court to block the Arizona law, known as SB 1070, from taking effect.

If the justices agree to take up the Arizona case, they would hear arguments in the winter and probably hand down a ruling in late spring as the presidential race gets underway.

Last year, Arizona took center stage in the immigration debate when its lawmakers directed police to check the immigration status of people they lawfully stopped and suspected of being in the country illegally. The state said its stepped-up enforcement was intended to "discourage and deter" illegal immigrants from living or working in Arizona.

But the Obama administration went to court in Phoenix along with immigrant rights advocates, arguing that the federal government has exclusive control over immigration enforcement. The administration said its policy was to arrest and deport criminals, gang members and drug dealers who were illegal immigrants. By implication, officials indicated they did not seek to round up hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who were working or living in this country.

The administration won rulings from a federal judge in Phoenix and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, putting the Arizona policing measure on hold.

In appealing those decisions, Clement said the states had a basic "police power" that allowed them to enforce the law within their borders. Moreover, he said, illegal immigration has a "disproportionate impact" on states such as Arizona, which justifies extra enforcement measures.

Following Arizona's lead, Georgia, Alabama and Utah have adopted similar enforcement laws. In addition, Clement cited measures in Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee that authorize police to check the immigration status of those they arrest.

But most of those measures face legal challenges, and several have been blocked from going into effect.

At issue in all of these cases is whether states may enforce the immigration laws more aggressively than the federal government.

Arizona's legal position got a boost in May when the Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, upheld a state employment law that would take away the business licenses of employers who knowingly hired illegal workers. It was challenged by companies and civil rights advocates who argued that the state penalties conflicted with federal law. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the court was wary of striking down a state law unless Congress made clear states have no enforcement role.

In his appeal on the SB 1070 case, Clement argued that Congress wanted the state to play a "cooperative" role in enforcing the immigration laws.

Omar Jadwat, an immigrant rights lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said he doubted the state would prevail in the high court.

"The governor had put herself in a political position where she had to file this appeal. But she has lost in the district court and in the court of appeals, and I don't think dragging it out will make for a different result," he said. "There's really no need for the Supreme Court to get involved."


Top Mass. cops: Illegal alien cons must go

2 sheriffs ignore governor, seek to boot criminals

Two tough-on-crime southeastern Massachusetts lawmen are openly defying Gov. Deval Patrick’s push to end a controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants, pledging to work with the feds to deport undocumented foreign lawbreakers that land in their jails.

Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and Plymouth Sheriff Joseph McDonald are moving forward with plans to join the federal Secure Communities program, despite Patrick’s campaign earlier this summer to cancel the state’s participation, the Herald has learned.

“There’s nothing he can do,” Hodgson said of Patrick. “He can complain or do whatever he wants. He can challenge me legally. I don’t frankly care. I didn’t get elected by the governor.”

The two Republican sheriffs are slated to meet with officials from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency next week to hash out plans to share inmates’ fingerprints and other information to weed out illegal aliens.

Forty-two states take part in the program but Patrick pulled Massachusetts out, citing concerns that illegals were being deported after being charged with only minor crimes. The governor also argued that the state routinely shares arrestees’ fingerprints with the FBI and refers all convicted felons to ICE.

“The governor’s position is nothing short of irresponsible,” Hodgson said. “Anytime we can implement an initiative to make our communities safer, we have an obligation to do that.”

John Birtwell, a spokesman for McDonald, said: “The sheriff has been foursquare behind Secure Communities and has been trying to work with the local officials as well as ICE officials in Washington to join the program.”

Patrick, citing concerns of “ethnic profiling,” refused to sign a memorandum in June that would have required law enforcement agencies to share fingerprints with ICE.

In a June letter to ICE, the governor’s public safety czar Mary Heffernan cited “conflicting messages” from ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as a report that found just one in four deportees under the program in Boston had been convicted of a “serious crime.”

The report also found more than half of those deported were listed as “non-criminal.”

Patrick spokesman Alex Goldstein yesterday refused to comment directly on the efforts of Hodgson and McDonald, but said: “The governor has made his concerns about this program clear to ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, and he is going to continue to express those concerns moving forward.”

The issue came to a head earlier this year when Luis Guaman Cela, a 40-year-old illegal immigrant from Ecuador, was charged with the brutal bludgeoning murders of Maria Avelina Palaguachi-Cela and her toddler son in Brockton. Guaman Cela had a violent rap sheet under an alias and fled to Ecuador after the murders.

Boston has been part of Secure Communities since 2006, but Mayor Thomas M. Menino also has threatened to pull out of the program. City officials are slated to meet with ICE on Aug. 24 to discuss the issue.


1 comment:

  1. The report also found more than half of those deported were listed as “non-criminal.”

    That whole statement is complete crap. The fact that they are in this country ILLEGALLY makes them criminal.