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Can the Obama administration simply ignore federal laws it doesn’t like?

Posted by Richard on February 22, 2012

That’s the question at issue, according to Van Irion, in U.S. v. Arizona. His Liberty Legal Foundation recently filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in this case.

Arizona’s S.B 1070 says that when state law enforcement officers have legitimate reasons for detaining an individual, they should request information about the individual’s immigration status from the INS. The Obama administration ordered the INS not to provide such information, in violation of Federal law (8 U.S.C. §1373), which states in subsections (a) & (b) (emphasis added by Van Irion):

“Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual…no person or agency may prohibit, or in any way restrict, a Federal, State, or local government entity from doing any of the following with respect to information regarding the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual: (1) …requesting or receiving such information from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service”

In Federal District Court, the Obama administration asked for and received an injunction prohibiting Arizona law enforcement agencies from requesting immigration status information from the INS. They cited subsection (c) of that same law (8 U.S.C. §1373), which requires the INS to respond to such requests. And they argued … well, I’ll let Irion explain (emphasis in original):

… You see, the Arizona Court and Obama both reason that because subsection (c) requires the INS to respond, if Arizona police make too many requests, then the INS will be too busy to “pursue other priorities,” as determined by Obama.

To summarize the argument: Because Federal law requires us to do this, if you make us do it we won’t be able to not do it. And that argument won the day.

This argument essentially asks the Judicial branch to validate the Executive branch’s decision to ignore the Legislative branch’s mandate. Do you see the danger to our entire form of government?

The amicus brief is quite short, simple, and commendably clear. I urge you to read it (PDF).

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