S.B. 1070 as National Legislation?

Arizona’s S.B. 1070 has been a mixed blessing – at best – triggering legal challenges, boycotts and other unpleasantness, and leaving only a handful of state politicians as the apparent beneficiaries of the measure. As our readers have noted in previous MurthyBlog entries, several states are considering legislation modeled on the Arizona law, seeking in one way or another to regulate illegal immigration on the state level, even though this function is normally the province of the federal government.

No matter – if a Congressman from California gets his way, something much like S.B. 1070 would become the law of the land, from sea to shining sea. According to Fox News, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) has proposed federal legislation to “allow local police, at the state level, to enforce federal immigration laws – something they are not presently permitted to do.” (See Congressman Wants Arizona Immigration Law to Go National, by Peter Doocy, Fox News, 04.Feb.2011.) Royce told Fox News that violence along the Mexican border makes it imperative to permit local law enforcement agencies to help secure the border. Royce also called for completion of a 700-mile border fence, and for stronger visa security, Fox News reported.

One cannot help but wonder how all of this would be paid for; states and localities already face difficult fiscal tradeoffs, having long since trimmed the fat from their budgets and now being forced to cut even essential services like education and law enforcement down to the bone. Royce’s bill may play well to a certain segment of his party, at least initially, until they consider the practical implications of siphoning off local law enforcement resources to solve a national problem – and solve it on the dime of the local taxpayers. With only so many officers to go around, police forces have to deploy their officers carefully, and use their time efficiently. The more time local police spend chasing down federal immigration violators, the less time they will have to keep violent criminals off the streets.

To put it mildly, S.B. 1070 is not exactly the model of choice, if we wish to solve our immigration problems; in fact, it’s a far cry from the “more orderly look at immigration policy” that former President George W. Bush has called for. (See George W. Bush Cautions Against Nativism, MurthyBlog, 08.Feb.2011.) One hopes Congress will take a more serious and comprehensive approach to fixing our immigration system than the Royce bill would offer.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.