Guy W. Farmer: Supreme Court to decide immigration issues |

Guy W. Farmer: Supreme Court to decide immigration issues

Guy W. Farmer
For the Nevada Appeal

Make no mistake about it, the Obama administration is soft on illegal immigration. Why else would the president permit his Justice Department to sue states that attempt to enforce federal immigration laws?

The immigration battle between the federal government and several states will come to a head next spring when the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether the states have a right to act when the Feds fail to enforce our immigration laws. No matter how it decides the case of an appeal by the state of Arizona, the Court’s ruling will place it squarely at the storm center of American politics during a heated presidential election campaign.

The legal question is whether states have the right to supplement federal efforts to stem the tide of illegal immigration, which costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in public education, health care, welfare, and court and law enforcement expenses. This is an important issue here in Nevada where the Hispanic population, legal and illegal, approaches 25 percent.

This is a bipartisan issue because all too often Democrats see “undocumented” immigrants as potential voters while some unscrupulous Republican businessmen see a ready supply of low-end workers who make less than the minimum wage without any benefits. Nice!

But instead of working with Arizona, Alabama and other states (including Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and neighboring Utah) that are trying to address the problem of illegal immigration, the Obama administration has decided to sue them, claiming that immigration enforcement is solely a federal responsibility. As the conservative Weekly Standard noted recently, “Alabama’s controversial new law . . . carefully tracks, rather than contradicts, federal statutes . . . (and) specifically rules out ethnic profiling and stopping people in the streets for suspected lack of immigration status alone.”

Arizona’s tough immigration law, SB-170, directs “state law enforcement officers to cooperate and communicate with federal officials regarding the enforcement of federal immigration law.” So what’s the problem?

Well, one major problem is that Obama, most Democrats and some clueless Republicans don’t want to offend Hispanic voters. What they don’t realize, however, is that many Hispanic Americans resent those who jump the line by sneaking into our country instead of obeying our immigration laws. For starters, we might ask prominent Hispanics like Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) how they feel about illegal immigration. They’re opposed to it, and for good reason because of the huge financial burden the illegals place on cash-strapped states.

It’s going to be a close call in the Supreme Court on the Arizona case next spring. In an earlier ruling on one part of the Arizona law, Justice Elena Kagan, the former U.S. Solicitor General, recused herself as the Court voted 5-3 to allow Arizona to revoke the business licenses of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. I expect a similar decision on the entire Arizona law, thereby establishing the states’ legitimate right to help enforce federal immigration laws. Stay tuned.

• Retired diplomat Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, follows immigration issues closely.