Based on reports of the hearing before the federal District Court Judge yesterday, it appears that the provision of the Arizona immigration law requiring law enforcement to verify immigration status is likely to survive, while other aspects creating independent state criminal sanctions will not.

This outcome — with the caveat that a Judge’s comments do not necessarily predict the outcome — makes sense legally. There is no interference with the federal administration of the immigration laws if the state, after confirming that a person is here illegally, merely turns the person over to federal authorities.

This circumstance would be no different than many types of federal crimes in which local law enforcement turns suspects over to the feds. It would then be completely up to the feds whether to enforce the law.

If this is indeed the outcome, then Arizona will have the equivalent of the Rhode Island Executive Order, albeit the Arizona law would apply to all law enforcement not just the state police.

While the survival of this aspect of the Arizona immigration law would still outrage opponents, the practical effect would be to allow federal authorities to nullify the state law in practice by refusing to take custody of or prosecute those turned over by state authorities.

Indeed, this is what happens sometimes in Rhode Island, when the State Police notify federal authorities and there are no outstanding warrants on the person.

My expectation is that if the ruling goes as currently expected, and the status check provision alone survives, the Obama administration will refuse to take into custody anyone who is turned over by Arizona authorities who is not already wanted for a crime or who was not picked up in the course of committing another crime.

Call it nullification. Or better yet, willful disregard of the law.

Related Posts:
Hey, Rhode Island Already Checks Immigration Status At Traffic Stops
Saturday Night Card Game (The Arizona Immigration Bill Is Not Racist)
Leadership by the Wilfully Ignorant

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