The Supreme Court endorsed a tough application of immigration law to certain longtime illegal immigrants, clearing the way for summary deportations of perhaps thousands who have been living in the United States for a decade or more.
By a vote of 8 to 1, the court ruled that the U.S. government properly sent Utah truck driver Humberto Fernandez-Vargas back to Mexico in 2004 because he returned to the U.S. illegally in 1982 after having been previously deported.
A new local court ruling in Arizona also makes immigration law enforcement easier. Maricopa County Arizona (encompasses Phoenix) Superior Court Judge Thomas O'Toole ruled that Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas's practice of prosecuting illegal immigrants for engaging in a conspiracy to violate US immigration laws is constitutional.
PHOENIX -- A judge upheld an Arizona law Friday that created the state crime of immigrant smuggling, rejecting arguments that it was an unconstitutional attempt by the state to regulate immigration.
The ruling was a victory for a prosecutor who has used the 9-month-old law to target not only smugglers but also their customers as conspirators to the crime.
The interpretation led to scores of prosecutions against immigrants in Maricopa County and drew a sharp response from immigrant advocates and the law's author, who said it was intended to apply only to smugglers.
He said state law makes it clear that when two or more people are involved in a plan to break the law, that constitutes a conspiracy.
The judge also said federal immigration laws do not pre-empt states from imposing their own regulations.
That part of the ruling has potential implications beyond the specific questions of the law in question. It also goes to the ongoing fight at the Capitol over whether the state has the power to enact various laws dealing with illegal entrants — and specifically whether it can punish companies that hire undocumented workers.
Following the legal advice of Maricopa County's tough on crime prosecutor Andrew Thomas, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio began arresting illegal immigrants under the new law and referring them for prosecution. Since the enforcement began, 272 illegal immigrants have been arrested and charged. Twenty-three illegal immigrants and one coyote have pled guilty, and will serve jail-time before being deported. With a felony on their record, they will have a slim chance at ever entering the U.S. legally or obtaining U.S. citizenship.
National and local level enforcement of immigration laws has the potential to send the illegals running back to their countries of origin.
Governor Mitt Romney is seeking an agreement with federal authorities that would allow Massachusetts state troopers to arrest undocumented immigrants for being in the country illegally.
If the proposal is approved, Massachusetts would join a handful of states and localities that have entered into such pacts since they were first authorized in 1996. That list includes Florida, Alabama, and a few counties in California and North Carolina, where a limited number of officers have been trained to enforce immigration laws.
The US Senate and President are out of step with the rest of the country on immigration.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 June 25 02:11 PM Immigration Law Enforcement|