Punishing the Police for Following the Law

According to multiple media outlets, a Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper has been placed under administrative review after he called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to report Armando Chavez Corona, a previously deported felon, he encountered when responding to a traffic accident.  Allegedly the WSP is attempting to determine whether the trooper violated an internal policy barring cooperation with ICE.  In reality, a conscientious police officer is being punished for attempting to enforce the law.

Sanctuary zealots, the state of Washington chief among them, maintain that state and local jurisdictions are barred by federal law (see Arizona v. U.S.) from participating in any aspect of immigration law enforcement. They also argue that, pursuant to the 10th Amendment, they have no obligation to provide any form of assistance to the federal government in its efforts to enforce immigration law. However, these are inaccurate and disingenuous arguments.

Because the Constitution assigns responsibility for regulating immigration exclusively to the federal government, states are prohibited from passing their own laws indicating who may or may not enter the United States. However, neither the Constitution nor any federal laws, prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from sharing information with federal immigration authorities. In fact, they are required to do so.

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, section 434, blocks state and local governments from imposing any prohibition or restriction on a state or local government entity that prevents it from sending or receiving information, to or from federal immigration authorities, regarding the “immigration status” of an individual.

Similarly, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, section 642, prohibits any restriction on a federal, state, or local governmental entity or official’s ability to send or receive information regarding “immigration or citizenship status” to or from federal immigration authorities. It further provides that no person or agency may prohibit a federal, state, or local government entity from (1) sending information regarding immigration status to, or requesting information from, federal immigration authorities; (2) maintaining information regarding immigration status; or (3) exchanging such information with any other federal, state, or local government entity.

And while the 10th Amendment prohibits the federal government from commandeering state and local police agencies to enforce federal law, the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause prohibits the states from deliberately hindering federal authorities in the furtherance of legitimate federal objectives. In short, there is no constitutionally protected basis for disobedience of federal immigration laws with which a state government may disagree on mere policy grounds.

Maybe the state of Washington should be more concerned with protecting its citizens from the likes of Chavez Corona than persecuting law enforcement officers who work hard to protect the public. It is amazing how much effort, and taxpayer money, places like Washington and California are expending to shield lawbreakers from society’s protectors.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    It’s a wonder anyone goes into police work any more. Yes there are bad cops but the media has no objectivity. Look at Michael Brown and Ferguson Missouri. Even after the Obama Justice Dept said the story told by officer Wilson was backed by virtually all the forensic evidence, a lot of the media still carries on about how Brown was “unarmed” but he was only unarmed because he failed to wrestle Wilson’s gun away. Meanwhile Wilson can’t get a job.

    The media carries on with all this wounded innocence about what Trump says about them, but look at what they did with his admittedly garbled remarks about Sweden. He never claimed it was a “terror attack” and when he explained he was talking about a documentary on Fox about violence and assaults in Sweden by refugees they then said he was lying about that. But two Swedish politicians said today that he was absolutely right about the disaster it’s been for that country.

    I used to say I was liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal matters, but the left has gone off the deep end. Look no further than the remarks by former Governor Cuomo, who was asked a very logical question about transgender bathrooms. Asked what he would say to 12 year girls who might not want to see male genitals in the ladies room, he replied they should be more “tolerant” and that they were probably influenced by their father’s prejudices. Really? Must ten thousand people be made uncomfortable to accommodate one person? Tolerance sure, but is there a limit on that.

    • avatar

      correction, it was not governor Cuomo who made the remark. It was his brother Chris who is a commentator on CNN.

  2. avatar

    Where in the constitution is the power to control immigration taken from the states? For this to no longer be a state power, the prohibition would have to be explicit.

  3. avatar

    Sanctuary cities and states will continue to have such conflicts
    until greater clarify emerges about cooperation between
    local and state law-enforcement and the federal government.
    A simple separation of POLICE and PRISONS
    will probably solve the problems:

    “Don’t ask, don’t tell”
    should apply to all POLICE activities:
    The local and state police should never ask about immigration status.

    However, if ever an individual is ARRESTED,
    this person will be fully identified by the PRISON authority,
    including country of citizenship.

    All PRISONS and JAILS might be required to cooperate with ICE.
    But POLICE OFFICERS should not become involved in enforcing immigration laws.

    Here are some further thoughts about such SEPARATION:

    instead of SANCTUARY CITIES?
    The expression “sanctuary cities”
    might be taken to mean
    that foreign nationals
    will not be arrested for ordinary crimes.
    Not so.
    All crimes will be investigated
    and laws will be enforced.
    The mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota
    suggests a new expression:
    What most of these cities really mean
    is that there will be OFFICIAL SEPARATION
    between the POLICE functions
    and the PRISON functions.
    If and when any individual
    (regardless of citizenship)
    is arrested for probable cause,
    then FULL IDENTIFICATION of this individual
    should be obtained
    —explicitly including country of citizenship.
    Booking includes taking a picture of the person arrested
    and creating a set of fingerprints,
    which are automatically compared
    with other fingerprints kept by the FBI.
    If this person is wanted for any other crimes,
    then that fact will be taken into account
    for all future cooperation
    with other agencies of law-enforcement.
    In short, the POLICE can do their work
    without ever asking for immigration status.
    (This protects all who cooperate with the police.)
    But if and when some criminal suspect is ARRESTED,
    then the full identity of that suspect
    should be explored by the PRISON authorities.
    On the STREET, no one is asked about citizenship.
    But in JAIL, all suspects are completely identified.
    The federal government should have no problems
    with such SEPARATION CITIES.
    Both sides of the debate get what they want:
    The city police do not arrest anyone for immigration violations.
    Once in custody for ordinary crimes,
    the prison authorities fully identify the suspects
    and cooperate with all other levels of law-enforcement.
    One additional administrative way to achieve this SEPARATION
    already exists in many locations:
    The CITY sets policy for the local POLICE.
    And the COUNTY sets policy for the local JAIL.
    Property taxes support both levels of government,
    but there are different governing bodies
    —perhaps a city council
    and a county board of commissioners.
    And even when the same governing body sets both policies,
    they can clearly SEPARATE the POLICE PRACTICES
    from the PRISON PRACTICES.
    When all local and state jails and prisons cooperate
    with all levels of national law-enforcement,
    there should be no threat of withholding federal funds
    from any such SEPARATION CITIES.

    • avatar

      “Don’t ask, don’t tell”
      should apply to all POLICE activities:
      The local and state police should never ask about immigration status. With as many illegals that are in this country..THEY HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO KNOW who is who & where from!! Agreed that there are many that are peaceful, but, there are a GREAT MANY who are not!! And maybe the cops (IN “THOSE” STATES) just might say the hell with it too!! Remember that when some illegal kicks in your door (or gets in some way in the middle of the nite?) & you hear this in the phone when you call for help…illegal..not our problem! “CLICK” Besides..if your in this country illegally..they have already broken 1 law..which means they are PISSING ON THIS COUNTRY’S LAW’S, OUR FLAG & US!! It means to me that they DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT US OR OUR COUNTRY!! PERIOD!!