Immigration Federalism: The Case of Immigration Enforcement by Non-Federal Agencies
AbstractSince 2002, state and local governments have passed many laws and ordinances designed to regulate immigration. This sort of activism, combined with the failure of the federal government to enforce immigration laws, has blurred the line between who should and should not be enforcing immigration laws. This study seeks to clarify the debate concerning the enforcement of immigration laws in the United States. Through an analytical review of the U.S. Constitution, relevant U.S. Supreme Court rulings, and critical lower court cases, this study contends that the federal government is entitled to exclusive enforcement of immigration laws. This conclusion centers on four main arguments: (a) the U.S. Constitution and relevant court cases have established the federal government as the main enforcer of immigration laws; (b) the complexity of immigration laws concerning the enforcement of criminal and civil regulation may result in federal preemption for states and localities that overstep their formal agreements with the federal government; (c) the unnecessary immigration enforcement by states can cause local officers to disregard their traditional job and use their resources to enforce federal laws; and (d) local enforcement of immigration laws has further distanced immigrant communities by the voluntary or involuntary violation of civil rights.
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