Should states and local governments have the right to enforce their own immigration laws when their voters decide the federal laws and practices are insufficient?
Yes: Governor Jan Brewer; No: Governor Bill Richardson
Should states and local governments have the right to enforce their own immigration laws when their voters decide the federal laws and practices are insufficient? Yes
Our neighbor to the south is in a massive battle with well-organized drug cartels. Because of Washington’s failure to secure our southern border, Arizona has become the superhighway for illegal drug and human smuggling activity. In December 2008, the U.S. Justice Department said that Mexican gangs are the “biggest organized crime threat to the United States.” In 2009, Phoenix had 316 kidnapping cases, turning the city into our nation’s kidnapping capital. Almost all of the persons kidnapped were undocumented immigrants or linked to the drug trade.
The same week that I signed the new law, a major drug ring was broken up and Mexican cartel operatives suspected of running 40,000 pounds of marijuana through southern Arizona were indicted.
While drug smuggling is the principal cause of our massive border violence problem, many of the same criminal organizations also smuggle people. Busts of drop houses, where undocumented immigrants are often held for ransom or otherwise severely abused, are not an uncommon occurrence in Arizona neighborhoods.
Should states and local governments have the right to enforce their own immigration laws when their voters decide the federal laws and practices are insufficient? No
When the Arizona legislature decided to crack down on illegal immigration, it forced its state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration law—or at least Arizona’s version. But what if Arizona’s new law drives more illegal immigration to the three remaining border states? How would those states react?
Imagine that legislators in California pass a law that denies business licenses to companies suspected of hiring undocumented immigrants. What if Texas sets up its own immigration inspections on state highways? And what would happen if New Mexico passes a law that closes the international ports of entry along the New Mexico–Mexico border?
Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? But it’s easy to see how one state’s actions related to a federal issue—immigration—could turn into the equivalent of an arms race among neighboring states.
The fact is, immigration and control of our international borders are federal issues for a reason. It is in America’s national interest to have a uniform approach to an issue that affects foreign policy and national security.
That doesn’t mean states should ignore the effects of illegal immigration or violence at the border. As governor, I have consistently taken state action to deal with the public safety of New Mexicans living near the border.