BOLTON & WILLIAMSON: States of contention over immigration

July 22, 2010 06:31

Arizona stands tall on the border while Foggy Bottom wilts

By John Bolton and Edwin Williamson at Washington Times

The Obama administration’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s controversial S.B. 1070 (its state Senate bill number) will be heard Thursday in federal court in Phoenix. The Justice Department asserts that this state statute, touching on immigration, is pre-empted and its enforcement should be enjoined, partially because it “will inflict irreparable injury on the United States’ ability to manage foreign policy.”

The issue of pre-emption is complicated, and we will not try to resolve it. What intrigues us, however, is that S.B. 1070 is not a state statute purposefully contrary to U.S. foreign policy, such as Massachusetts’ Burma sanctions, struck down by the Supreme Court. Instead, S.B. 1070 attempts to fill a gap left by what Arizonans consider to be lax federal enforcement of a body of federal laws that Arizona has tried to parallel.

In support of the Obama administration position, the Justice Department filed a declaration by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. Mr. Steinberg argues that S.B. 1070 “antagonizes foreign governments … likely making them less willing to … support [the U.S.] across a broad range of foreign policy issues.” This we know because “foreign leaders … have criticized S.B. 1070.” Moreover, this “can directly affect the [U.S.’s] ability to negotiate and implement favourable [sic] trade … agreements and to secure cooperation on counterterrorism[,] drug trafficking [and] nuclear non-proliferation,” and “threatens to undermine our standing in regional and multilateral [human rights] bodies.” Mr. Steinberg concludes, without offering a single real fact as evidence, that S.B. 1070 “risks reciprocal and retaliatory treatment of U.S. citizens abroad.”


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