Arizona’s New Law Upends Federal Priorities

Photo by xomiele

Yesterday, a federal judge began to hear arguments on Arizona law SB1070. One of the problems with SB1070 is that it places the federal government in an impossible situation. While the proponents of SB1070 say that Arizona will help ICE enforce immigration laws, the fact is that it would impinge upon ICE’s ability to fulfill its mandate, set enforcement priorities, and allocate resources effectively. SB1070 would inundate DHS with requests to determine the immigration status of individuals police have arrested for suspicion of being unlawfully present. If ICE determines that the individual is indeed unlawfully present, ICE would be expected to take custody of him/her and place him/her in deportation proceedings. Friday, IPC released a new fact check on how Arizona’s new law interferes with federal enforcement priorities.

Furthermore, through the 287(g) program, Secure Communities, and the Criminal Alien Program, ICE would screen all people booked into Arizona jails and convicted of crimes. ICE would then be expected to take custody of those immigrants charged with or convicted of these state crimes and place them in deportation proceedings.

In other words, Arizona would supply ICE with a huge number of people to deal with – most of them charged with or convicted of very minor offenses. While proponents of the law would say that this is the very purpose of the law, it actually strains ICE’s resources and harms their ability to prioritize the immigrants they target.

ICE already has its hands full, and it has developed enforcement priorities to help deal with its huge mandate. Currently there are 10-11 million unauthorized immigrants, countless legal immigrants who are deportable for serious and minor criminal offenses, and many employers breaking the law by employing unauthorized workers.

Congress has mandated that ICE prioritize the deportation of immigrants who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety, and those with criminal histories. So ICE principally targets immigrants engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage; immigrants convicted of crimes (with a particular emphasis on violent criminals, felons, and repeat offenders); gang members; and those subject to outstanding criminal warrants.

ICE has created a three-tiered priority system to allow them to evaluate each individual and take action on the highest priorities. Those immigrants charged with or convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, or kidnapping receive the highest priority, while immigrants charged with or convicted of less serious crimes are lower priority, and ICE takes action on them as their resources allow.

The crimes created by the Arizona law fall into the lowest priority. In essence, Arizona would be asking ICE to respond to all of Arizona’s requests and take custody of countless individuals who are not serious threats to the country and who have not committed serious crimes. This means that ICE would have fewer resources to deal with serious criminals, terrorists, and other priority individuals.

According to former INS Commissioner Doris Meissner:

[S]ince SB1070 does not, and cannot, distinguish among ICE-established priorities of targeted categories of aliens, Arizona’s verification requests would be likely to encompass those who have committed minor violations under Arizona law, and those simply suspected of such offenses – potentially at the expense of pursuing more serious criminal aliens, both in Arizona and in other states. Furthermore, SB1070 would not only conflict with federal priorities, but would also put Arizona in a position to dictate priorities for immigration enforcement to ICE and the federal government, which is contrary to our existing federal system. The effect would be to force ICE to respond to reports of civil immigration status violations over all other priorities, with the likely outcome of overwhelming carefully calibrated strategies for meeting federal statutory mandates within the bounds of budgetary constraints.

michelle-waslinIn other words, if Arizona’s intention was to “help” the federal government do its job, it has failed. SB1070 unfairly hijacks federal priorities and resources at the expense of our safety and security.

Michele Waslin

Republished with permission from Immigration Impact.


  1. Mad Jayhawk says

    If the federal government enforced its laws the state of Arizona wouldn’t need SB1070. They aren’t enforcing the law. The federal government has also allowed cities to create sanctuaries for illegals which makes the problem even worse. IF, If SB1070 creates a flood of arrests, ICE needs to do its job. If it doesn’t have the resources, Congress needs to give it more people, courts, etc. so it can. If the Marine Corps doesn’t have ammunition to accomplish its missions no one says that maybe the mission needs to be changed or that they get by on less ammunition. The American People are demanding that the problem with immigration be solved and the left is looking for more excuses to let things ago until they can figure out how to give these 12 million people amnesty. The American People should not forget that the Democrats have backed the lawsuits against Arizona and that they oppose any meaningful attempt to deal with illegal immigration. In Arizona they have opposed English only in the schools and voter ID initiatives. They have opposed law enforcement cracking down on rampant identity theft. They even stood and loudly applauded and cheered the Mexican President as he stood and derided Arizona’s law. Now there are rumors that the President is going to grant illegals amnesty using an Executive Order and bypassing Congress. If he does this, he should be impeached and if his illegal-friendly party doesn’t do it there will 10,000,000 people marching on Washington demanding that he be removed from office.

  2. concerned in portland says

    You stated that Arizona’s law would overload ICE. I agree. That is why the federal government need to do their job in stopping ANY unauthorized people from entering the United States. The Mexican drug cartels are forcing many of those looking to sneak into our country to transport drugs. This is a major problem in Arizona and the rest of the country.

    I don’t consider kidnapping, murder, and rape harmless crimes. Many undocument women are raped while entering this country. They attackers feel safe knowing they can’t call the police for help.

    Others are detained in houses until more money is paid for the trip. If they can not pay, they will be forced into crininal activities until the debt is paid off. If they refuse they are likely to be killed and left in the desert.

    Looking at the above information, I now understand why our President and congres is unwilling to close the borders. I never thought our first black President would tolerate slavery.

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