State Law to the Contrary? Examining Potential Limits on the Authority of State and Local Law Enforcement to Enforce Federal Immigration Law
28 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2012 Last revised: 16 May 2013
Date Written: August 20, 2012
As the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed in Arizona v. United States, it is well-established that the “authority of state officers to make arrests for federal crimes,” including federal immigration law, “is . . . a matter of state law.” This general, universal rule has not yielded consistent results. The circuit courts of appeals have disagreed as to when state and local law enforcement can invoke this “implicit authority” and enforce federal immigration law. On one end of the spectrum stands the Ninth Circuit view that state and local law enforcement only have such authority if affirmatively authorized by the state. On the other, the broader view of enforcement authority, adopted by the Tenth Circuit, is that state and local law enforcement have the authority to enforce federal immigration law unless “state law exists to the contrary.” This article examines the ways in which state law limits the authority of state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law.
Keywords: immigration, Arizona, local law enforcement, misdemeanor arrest
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