Reference no: EM131378378
In an attempt to deal with the problems associated with illegal immigration, the state of Arizona passed a new statute that empowered local law enforcement officials to inspect the identification papers of anyone who might be in the country illegally. The law caused a wave of protests across the nation, mostly from people who saw the statute as racially biased. Arizona state officials argued that they had been forced to act because the federal government had done a terrible job of policing the borders and that, as a result of this neglect, there had been an unprecedented rise in violence associated with illegal border crossings.
Many American citizens supported the Arizona law and encouraged their state governments to pass similar legislation. Despite the support for the state immigration statute, the federal government sued the State of Arizona in an attempt to block the administration of the law. The Justice Department, under the control of Attorney General Eric Holder, argued that federal law trumped state law in this case because the Constitution gave the power to control immigration to the national government.
The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution does in fact state that, "(t)his Constitution and the Laws of the United States . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land."
Thus, it would seem that the federal government had a solid argument. Still it is strange that the government avoided the discrimination claim and chose, instead, to rely on the technical argument of federal supremacy. In essence, the Justice Department chose to challenge the law based on a minor "technicality," rather than on a more substantive civil rights claim.
As you read the chapter, see if you can determine if the federal government is right in its claim. Also, see if you can offer a few counter arguments to support Arizona's position. Finally, try to determine why the Justice Department decided to fight the law based on a technicality, rather than something more substantial.
(See "Immigration: Why Did Obama Sue Arizona?" The Week, July 23, 2010, p. 6.)
Opening Case Questions
1. What powers regarding citizenship were given to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution? Explain.
2. What powers regarding citizenship were given to the state governments in the U.S. Constitution? Explain .
3. In what article and section is the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution located and why did the Framers include such a clause? Explain.