By Pat Shannan
On September 5, states facing illegal immigration trouble received some good news. A federal court in Arizona upheld a law that allows police, who are enforcing other laws, to check the immigration status of anyone in the state.
The latest case was spun off from a June Supreme Court ruling that had gutted an Arizona law, which sought to rein in illegal immigration. The high court upheld a key provision in Arizona, however, that allowed local and state police to check a person’s immigration status.
To pro-illegal alien groups, this was the most controversial part of the law, because critics feared police would use any excuse to stop someone who fits a profile just to check his papers.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the ruling by charging that there is new evidence of racial discrimination. Federal District Court Judge Susan Bolton disagreed, ruling police could inquire as to whether someone is in the United States legally when they pull someone over or detain them.
Republican Governor Jan Brewer* appeared satisfied with the decision, saying it was “a victory for the people of Arizona and for America.”
Following the recent ruling by Judge Bolton upholding what is being referred to as the “show us your papers” clause, Brewer said she expects the law to go into effect immediately. The Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police indicated, however, that no decision had yet been made as to how soon authorities would begin checking for illegal aliens.
The ACLU said it would continue to challenge the Arizona law by documenting any purported racial profiling by all police agencies across the state.
Bizarrely, the ACLU also applauded Judge Bolton’s ruling that blocked another portion of Arizona’s immigration law, which made it a crime to harbor or transport illegal immigrants across the state. That provision conflicted with federal law, said Judge Bolton.
“The national government has significant power to regulate immigration,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion in June. “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”
Kennedy made it clear that Arizona authorities must comply with federal law in conducting the immigration status checks or face further constitutional challenges.
Arizona Attorney John Bouma said sardonically to reporters in August, “If Hispanics happen to be the people who are the highest percentage who come across the border illegally, believe it or not, they’re probably the highest percentage that will be prosecuted under the statute.”
So far, a dozen states have passed laws similar to Arizona’s. Many are still resisting. For example, in New Mexico, one of the states facing waves of illegal immigration, police officers are not allowed to ask people their immigration status.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has complained, “The Obama administration picks and chooses which laws it wishes to enforce, but for the U.S. Supreme Court to deprive states of those powers that are, in the words of Justice Scalia, ‘the defining characteristic[s] of sovereignty,’ is insulting to the Constitution and our right to govern ourselves.”
*SCORPIONS FOR BREAKFAST: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media & Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border
By Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
Sometime after dark on March 27, 2010, Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was found dead next to his four-wheeler on his ranch on the Arizona-Mexico border. Krentz and his dog had been missing since that morning. They were last heard from when he radioed his brother to say that he’d found an illegal alien on the property and was going to offer him assistance. The man Krentz encountered that day shot and killed him and his dog, without warning, before escaping to Mexico. It’s difficult to overstate the impact of Krentz’s death, which turned the issue of Arizona’s unsecured border—a crisis that the federal government had repeatedly ignored—into a national concern. As Arizona sheriff Larry Dever said in his testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, “We cannot sit by while our citizens are terrorized, robbed and murdered by ruthless and desperate people who enter our country illegally.” This momentum helped pass SB 1070, a bill that authorizes local law enforcement to question persons reasonably suspected of being illegal aliens, which Governor Brewer had been working on for months. With the passage of this bill, the state of Arizona became ground zero in the debate over illegal immigration. The Democrats and the media went into overdrive, denouncing the state and its governor as racists and “Nazis.”
In SCORPIONS FOR BREAKFAST, Jan Brewer, America’s toughest governor and one of the most popular conservative political figures in the nation today, proudly defends her embattled state and challenges President Obama to do his job and keep our border safe. Unfairly tarred by liberal critics as a state comprised of racist rednecks, Arizona is on the front lines in the battle against illegal immigration—and the courageous stand of its governor—who has been called so tough that she “eats scorpions for breakfast”—will educate and inspire Americans from coast to coast.
Hardback, 240 pages, $28 plus S&H.
Pat Shannan is a contributing editor of American Free Press. He is also the author of several videos and books including Everything They* Ever Told Me Was a Lie, THE MONTANA FREEMEN: The Untold Story of Government Suppression and The News Media Cover-Up, One in a Million: An IRS Travesty and I Rode With Tupper.