The U.S. Department of Justice, playing the role of enforcer of the Obama administration’s non-enforcement policy, yesterday filed a lawsuit to prevent Alabama’s immigration law from taking effect on September 1. The federal government is asserting that the Alabama law – similar to the one enacted by Arizona in 2010 —oversteps a state’s law-making boundaries into exclusively federal territory.
The suit alleges that Alabama’s law violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which gives the federal government exclusive jurisdiction over immigration policy, laws and enforcement (or lack thereof). Even though a June 17 policy directive by the director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency makes it clear that the federal government has no intention to enforce its own immigration laws, the lawsuit demonstrates that the administration does not want states trying to do it for them. Attorney General Eric Holder said the lawsuit “makes clear that setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state immigration laws.” But it has been, unfortunately, the administration’s unwillingness to exhibit any of that ‘national responsibility’ which has pushed states such as Alabama to try and take action itself.