Putting States Out of the Immigration Law Enforcement Business
Harvard Law and Policy Review, vol. 9.2 (Forthcoming)
26 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2015 Last revised: 16 Dec 2016
Date Written: 2015
With more than 11 million unlawfully present immigrants living in the United States in 2014, a recent surge of migrants from violence-stricken countries, and a painfully slow economic recovery, states are rightfully concerned about the impact on their economy, culture and communities. In most matters of economic and cultural import, absent any discrimination, states make their own rules. But not so with immigration. The impact of unlawful immigration on state economies and communities is real, but jurisprudence over the last 150 years has tied the hands of state legislatures attempting to address this impact. I will argue that keeping states out of the immigration law enforcement business is wise public policy. I will examine the role of states in the enforcement of immigration law in light of a string of recent federal cases addressing state and local immigration enforcement laws. I will critique the questionable state justifications for new enforcement powers and explain how they already have adequate powers to protect their job markets and secure their communities against the potential impact of unlawful immigration. I will conclude with brief recommendations for ongoing public policy on immigration law enforcement.
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