The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 27, 2012

Our View: Enforcing the law

The Joplin Globe

— Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether Arizona had exceeded its authority with its tough immigration law that requires police to check the legal status of people they stop for other reasons.

Although no ruling has been made, it would appear that the justices find little problem with the state law.

While there is no argument, legal or otherwise, that the federal government alone has the authority to establish legal requirements for anyone to enter the United States, Arizona has not attempted to establish its own unique requirements for legal residence and employment in America.

Arizona has, through state law, directed a more aggressive stance on the immigration status of those in that state, doing so because the federal government, quite frankly, hasn’t done its job.

We do not need, want or expect each state to establish requirements for legal residence in America.

However, when other laws are violated it would be appropriate, in our view, for arresting officials to determine the immigration status of violators of state and local laws. If during such arrests it is apparent that those arrested are not legally in the United States, then they should be referred to federal authorities.

State courts should not attempt to detain, much less deport, illegal immigrants. That authority rests strictly with federal courts.

But when clear evidence is found of violation of federal laws while enforcing state or local laws, we see nothing wrong with state or local authorities reporting such violations to federal officials.

If the federal government thinks Arizona as well as other states that are following suit are crossing the line, then it needs to find a way to do its job.