Commentary: Obama’s DOJ sues South Carolina Over Immigration Law
by Jim Kouri
The Obama administration, through Attorney General, Eric Holder, yesterday filed a lawsuit against a new immigration law, this time in South Carolina. The White House is accusing that state of interfering with the federal government’s authority on immigration policy.
South Carolina now joins Arizona and Alabama in being civilly prosecuted for attempting to halt the flow of illegal aliens into the state.
The Justice Department alleges that portions of the South Carolina’s law are “unconstitutional,” and the state should not be allowed to implement the popular new law that’s scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2012.
As with the Alabama statute, the law requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of everyone they detain, a policy that progressives, illegal alien supporters and Democrat lawmakers say will result in the harassment and detention of legal aliens.
“Today’s lawsuit makes clear once again that the Justice Department will not hesitate to challenge a state’s immigration law … if we find that the law interferes with the federal government’s enforcement of immigration,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
“It is understandable that communities remain frustrated with the broken immigration system, but a patchwork of state laws is not the solution and will only create problems,” he added.
However, the cities and states declaring themselves sanctuaries for illegal aliens, while violating federal law, remain free from civil litigation by the Obama Justice Department. Recently, Washington, DC, and New York City officially announced their “sanctuary” status and constraints placed on police officers’ interaction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
The Center for Immigration Studies released a new report on in October titled, “Which Way, New York: Will Feds Tolerate Local Interference or Assert Their Authority?“The CIS report examines New York City’s policies and practices and the effect they have on public safety and federal enforcement efforts.It also questions the federal government’s passive acceptance of these sanctuary policies and recommends actions that can be taken to discourage such developments.
- Three-quarters of all foreign-born arrests in the entire state of New York occur in New York City (NYC). In 2008, the latest year for which data are available, local officers arrested 52,827 immigrants in NYC.
- For at least 20 years, NYC has had official policies impeding the enforcement of federal immigration laws. City policies prevent ICE agents from receiving notification of arrested aliens before their release from police custody.
- In September 2009, NYC’s Department of Correction adopted, and has since maintained, particularly obstructive policies and procedures for immigration officers and agents attempting to access criminal alien inmates housed in its detention facilities. Jail staff are required to follow procedures that actively encourage aliens to refuse to speak with ICE agents.
- Since the implementation of these procedures, the number of aliens charged with immigration violations at the city’s main detention facility has been cut nearly in half.
- Notwithstanding its lack of cooperation, NYC has garnered millions of dollars each year in federal SCAAP (State Criminal Alien Assistance Program) funds since the inception of this program to reimburse jurisdictions for the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens criminals.
- Despite all of the above facts, the federal government has never taken action to overcome the obstacles placed in its way by NYC – either through lawsuits, withholding of funding, or executive action – so that it can perform its job of immigration law enforcement in the most effective and efficient way possible.