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OPINION

How America Can Stand By Arizona

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

I knew Arizona’s SB 1070 would be controversial when I introduced it, but I did not expect the national immigration debate to revolve around a state law.

While the anti-American open borders Left attack me and the law as “racist,” “nativist” and their other empty smear words, the vast majority of the people of Arizona and America support the law.

Naturally, politicians of both parties on the state and local level are trying to jump on the bandwagon as the election approaches.

On the state level, dozens of gubernatorial and attorney general candidates are campaigning to enact SB 1070 style legislation. Even Democrats like Georgia’s Roy Barnes say they’d sign such a bill. Of course a politician’s promise isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Even if they would in fact sign the bill, they must also pledge to fight the Obama administration and its far left buddies like the ACLU and Mexican American Legal Defense Fund who are sure to file lawsuits and do whatever they can to block implementation of the law.

On the federal level, just saying “I support SB 1070” is even emptier without any commitment to fight the open borders agenda of the Obama administration and the courts.

Any Senate candidate who supports SB 1070 needs to guarantee that they will vote against any activist judge. Any RINO who voted for a board member of “LatinoJustice” (which filed an amicus brief against SB 1070) like Sonia Sotomayor knew how she would vote on immigration cases.

Additionally there is legislation that can affect the legal challenges against SB 1070.

Sen. Robert Menendez’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 would try to nullify every single state and local law that fights illegal immigration. Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s CIR ASAP Act with over 100 Democratic co-sponsors does the same thing.

Menendez’s bill also restricts the 287(g) program to allow state and local law enforcement to enter into formal agreements with federal immigration authorities to fight illegal immigration. Gutierrez’s bill completely repeals it.

287(g) is a useful program, but it is unfortunately viewed by many as a permission slip that must be granted by the federal government to allow states and localities to enforce immigration law. Former INS Commissioners Doris Meissner and James W. Ziglar wrote an Op Ed in the Washington Post claiming that SB 1070 is unconstitutional because it goes beyond what is permitted by 287(g).

Obama and Janet Napolitano restricted the agreement so that it can only be used to enforce the law against illegal aliens who also commit other crimes, and unfortunately many local law enforcement agencies stopped pursuing the law.

When Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio cracked down on illegal immigration without getting permission from Obama, they threatened to revoke his 287(g) status. When Sheriff Joe refused to balk, they filed suit against him with a frivolous civil rights claim.

The truth is that Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act explicitly acknowledges that states have the inherit authority to enforce immigration law stating:

"Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require an agreement . . . in order for any officer of a State . . . to communicate with the [Secretary of Homeland Security] regarding the immigration status of any individual . . . or otherwise to cooperate with the [Secretary] in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States."

Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal [CLEAR] Act further clarifies the states’ rights over immigration by “reaffirming the existing inherent authority of States…to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain, or transfer to Federal custody aliens in the United States…for the purposes of assisting in the enforcement of the immigration laws of the United States in the course of carrying out routine duties. This State authority has never been displaced or preempted by Congress.”

I’m flattered that my law has become a litmus test on immigration, but I hate to see Democrats and RINOs pretend to defend it to win votes. In Arizona a number of vulnerable Democratic Congressmen including Gabrielle Giffords and Ann Kirkpatrick tried to sound tough by opposing the federal lawsuit with much fanfare. Yet these same Democrats opposed SB 1070 initially, and they refuse to defend Arizona’s right to enforce the law. Rather they simply demand that the federal government take action (i.e. amnesty.) Needless to say, they have not co-sponsored the CLEAR Act.

With friends like these, SB 1070 does not need enemies. Any candidate or politician on the federal level who claims to support SB 1070 needs to put their money where their mouth is. This means supporting the CLEAR Act and acknowledging a state’s inherit right to enforce the law, opposing activist judges, and demanding that the federal government enforce all laws.

Of course the federal government needs to enforce its own laws and secure the border. But until they do, the least we can ask of them is not to interfere with states that care about the rule of law.

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