State Capitol News
3:50 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

State Asks US Supreme Court to Allow it to Begin Enforcing Law Aimed at Illegal Immigrants

Phoenix, AZ – The fight is over SB 1070 which is designed to give state and local police more power to detain and arrest those believed not in this country legally. But just days before it was set to take effect last year, a federal judge granted a request by the Obama administration to block key provisions, saying they interfere with the exclusive right of the federal government to regulate immigration. That decision wasupheld in April by an appellate court. Paul Clement, a former U-S solicitor general hired by Gov. Jan Brewer to seek high court review, said the lower court judges got it wrong in assuming Arizona needs federal permission to help enforce federal efforts against illegal immigrants.

(Arizona's position is that's not the way federalism and preemption are supposed to work. Unless there's something in federal law that makes clear that the state authorities can't supplement the federal authorities and make clear that the federal law is exclusive, then the states get to take those efforts.)

Clement said the injunction has created a hardship on Arizona. He cited figures showing there are about 400,000 illegal immigrants in this state alone, with 230,000 of them holding jobs in the state, amounting to 7.4 percent of the total workforce. And he said more than 17 percent of those locked up in state prisons, at state expenses, are in this country illegally. But Clement said there are other reasons he thinks the Supreme Court will agree to hear the state's arguments.

(This is just an extraordinarily important case. It's not every day that the federal government comes in to federal court and tries to enjoin a state law from going into effect. That's a pretty extraordinary step. I think it underscores this is an extraordinary issue.)

The Department of Justice, which is challenging the law, had no immediate comment. For Arizona Public

Radio this is Howard Fischer.