Obama administration’s official position agrees with AZ immigration-enforcement law

posted at 12:15 pm on May 18, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

While the Obama administration continues its apology tour in China and uses the Arizona immigration-enforcement law as fodder for some bowing and scraping, the Department of Justice may need to scrape some egg off of its face.  Attorney General Eric Holder admitted that he hadn’t actually read the bill before criticizing it, but it turns out that he needs to catch up on reading at the DoJ, too.  The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration has yet to withdraw a Bush-era memo that acknowledges the authority of states to do exactly what the Arizona law mandates:

In the legal battle over Arizona’s new immigration law, an ironic subtext has emerged: whether a Bush-era legal opinion complicates a potential Obama administration lawsuit against Arizona.

The document, written in 2002 by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, concluded that state police officers have “inherent power” to arrest undocumented immigrants for violating federal law. …

The author of the Arizona law — which has drawn strong opposition from top Obama administration officials — has cited the authority granted in the 2002 memo as a basis for the legislation. The Obama administration has not withdrawn the memo, and some backers of the Arizona law said Monday that because it remains in place, a Justice Department lawsuit against Arizona would be awkward at best.

“The Justice Department’s official position as of now is that local law enforcement has the inherent authority to enforce federal immigration law,” said Robert Driscoll, a former Justice Department Civil Rights Division official in the George W. Bush administration who represents an Arizona sheriff known for aggressive immigration enforcement. “How can you blame someone for exercising authority that the department says they have?”

Barack Obama has been in office for sixteen months.  Eric Holder has been AG for almost as long, being one of the first Cabinet members confirmed by the Senate after Obama assumed office.  During the transition, both men promised to “hit the ground running,” which should have meant a review of policy positions across the board.  Immigration reform was a key agenda item for Obama and the Democrats — and yet no one at the DoJ or the White House apparently thought to withdraw this memo.  That speaks volumes about competence.

One reason the memo remains in place is because it’s just common sense.  The federal government works with state and local authorities to enforce federal law in other areas, especially on drugs, for example.  The same applies to immigration violations when police already have detained a person for probable cause on another potential crime, as the law (now) stipulates.  Unless we’re prepared to fund a massive federal police agency with officers in every town in America, the federal government needs to have state and local authorities helping to enforce federal laws — even the laws that the Obama administration doesn’t want to enforce.  Especially those laws.

What else has escaped the reading list of the Obama administration?  For a collection of self-described geniuses, they seem particularly incurious readers regarding laws and policy papers.


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We as individuals need to take a look at how municipal and state governments in other sates are behaving in regards to the Arizona law. I am so embarrassed by how my state of Texas is behaving. Further, being from Dallas, I am appalled by how Austin is joining the boycott against Arizona. I love Texas Hill country for vacationing, and usually when I am down there, try to take in a dinner and live club show in Austin. I will no longer be doing this. I do not want my money spent there. I am writing a letter to the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau to let them know their wreckless decision has resulted in pitting them on the wrong side of this economically. I ask that the rest of you let the ACVB know that you will be boycotting them as well. Google them for contact info. If your organization is planning a convention, please ask them to contact the
Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau to let them know you have withdrawn Austin from consideration as a result of thier behaviour. They fired the first shots in this war, let us fire a lot more and make them pay for it.

paulsur on May 18, 2010 at 1:52 PM

During the transition, both men promised to “hit the ground running,” which should have meant a review of policy positions across the board. Immigration reform was a key agenda item for Obama and the Democrats — and yet no one at the DoJ or the White House apparently thought to withdraw this memo. That speaks volumes about competence.

Holder’s history of incompetence and corruption was largely ignored at his confirmation hearings, and his preposterous prevarications went largely unchallenged. His confirmation is a blot on the record of every Senator who voted to confirm him. (I mean YOU, Dick Lugar.)

For a collection of self-described geniuses, they seem particularly incurious readers regarding laws and policy papers.

Geniuses. Yeah, right. No matter how high your IQ, no matter how many Ivy League degrees you have, if you don’t have common sense and the mental discipline to at least try to separate your biases and prejudices from your “rational” analysis, you are just another fool. The Obama whiz kids are rapidly revealing the intellectual bankruptcy and practical incompetence of the over-educated elitist Left.

novaculus on May 18, 2010 at 1:55 PM

YouTube video featuring Big Bird’s “reading hotline” and prominent Democrats: http://www.youtube.com/user/Optoons#p/u/0/rQk9t4YzRXY

Mervis Winter on May 18, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Solid B+

screwauger on May 18, 2010 at 2:03 PM

paulsur on May 18, 2010 at 1:52 PM

I signed the petition supporting Governor Brewer. I also wrote to several who are boycotting, including the Mayor of Austin. These people who are boycotting Arizona have obviously never heard the term “what goes around, comes around”. I’m especially shocked that a Texas city would be participating in a boycott….even liberal Austin. I love Texas, it’s my favorite state…but can you all please relocate Austin to a blue state?

mtb on May 18, 2010 at 2:19 PM

YouTube video featuring Big Bird’s “reading hotline” and prominent Democrats:
http://www.youtube.com/user/Optoons#p/u/0/rQk9t4YzRXY

Mervis Winter on May 18, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Mervis Winter:That was funny,you never disappoint!!:)

canopfor on May 18, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Due to this clearly racist federal policy, I think our undocumented immigrants have no choice but to take a stand and boycott the entire U.S.

get outta Moms basement on May 18, 2010 at 2:26 PM

Where’s Katie Couric asking all these Dem chumps which bills they read?

Christien on May 18, 2010 at 12:31 PM

I’d prefer some reporter to ask these people exactly which (if any) of our immigration laws they are willing to enforce. The MSM is more than willing to give a platform to all these liberal loons who scream about Arizona’s “racism” and “fascism,” but they never seem to want to ask the logical next question: if we’re not going to allow law enforcement to enforce our current immigration laws, then just how are we going to secure the border? And if we’re not going to secure the border, then what are we going to do?

Is the U.S. permitted to impose any type of restriction on which foreigners get to live here, or are we required to accept as many drug runners, gang bangers, human smugglers, TB carriers, etc., who decide to cross the border? Is there any limit to the number of Third World poor that we’re required to take in? Does it matter that we’re already trillions of dollars in debt, and that the hundreds of thousands of mostly poor, unskilled, undereducated, non-English-speaking foreigners who come here illegally cost us many billions of dollars every year? Does it matter that we currently have a real un- and under-employment rate of over 17%, and that the new “immigrants” are going to be competing with out-of-work Americans for scarce jobs?

These are the questions that need answers. We already know they haven’t read the AZ law.

AZCoyote on May 18, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Illegal immigration is a bad thing. There is no good thing about it. Controlling immigration should be a top national security priority, becase every aspect of illegal immigration erodes the basic underpinnings of the rule of law and an organized functional society.

No amnesty. Never ever reward behavior juxtopposed to our tradition of law and order.

saiga on May 18, 2010 at 3:10 PM

It doesn’t matter if the federal government has those same laws on the books – they never planned on enforcing them so there was no reason to get rid of them. Same with California.
Every government agency is so keen of getting many new laws passed so they can selectively enforce them and say they are busy about the peoples business getting new laws passed. If is just an excuse to try to take more control over people and business through new laws, which they will not enforce so they can pass new laws, which they will not enforce, so they can pass new laws, which after they have laws so restrictive that they control everything, then it will be time to enforce the laws and you have Venezuela.

Corsair on May 18, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Ask Rick Perry to cut of any funds to Austin,that includes the film commission.

Col.John Wm. Reed on May 18, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Further, being from Dallas, I am appalled by how Austin is joining the boycott against Arizona. I love Texas Hill country for vacationing, and usually when I am down there, try to take in a dinner and live club show in Austin. I will no longer be doing this.

You think you are embarrassed, I live in El Paso, where a few years ago, the same kind of idiot voters that elected Obama, elected a couple of Libs to our City Council. These two lefties lead the way to join cities like San Francisco in every stupid liberal policy they can think of.
When Congress gave the go ahead on building the border fence they proclaimed that “our” City was against it, and now “we” are boycotting Arizona. This is happening all while our local television stations are taking polls that show that 70% of our population, (80% of them Hispanic), believe that all immigrants, legal and illegal, should be required carry ID with them at all times. Not to mention that we have a literal war going on in Juarez, Mexico, right across the river, less then a mile from our business district, where over 850 people have been killed this year.

But yeah, boycott Arizona. You love those illegals so much, they will soon be moving and joining the ones already here, then we will have the same problem with kidnapping as Phoenix has, and maybe the drug lords will also start killing people here just like they are in Juarez.

Susanboo on May 18, 2010 at 4:31 PM

Here’s the bill that became law:

http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/sb1070s.pdf

Here’s a quote that mirrors my feelings about this electorate of ours:

Some people have the vocabulary to sum up things in a way you can understand them. This quote came from the Czech Republic. Someone over there has it figured out. We have a lot of work to do.

The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.

The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America . Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.

The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.

LarryG on May 19, 2010 at 12:52 AM

It is not unusual for liberals to not read material about what they are making decisions on. They rely on their feelings to guide them instead of facts to the otherwise. I agree with LarryG. We can survive a fool llike Obama, but can we survive the fools who voted for him?

volsense on May 19, 2010 at 9:40 AM

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