Arizona V. United States Debate Report

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The legal issue presented in Arizona v. United States is whether federal immigration laws preclude Arizona’s cooperative law enforcement efforts and implicitly preempt provisions of Arizona’s immigration law (S.B. 1070). My team and I believe that S.B. 1070 violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which makes federal law the “supreme law of the land.” As such, S.B. 1070 unconstitutionally intrudes on the federal government’s authority to regulate immigration law and should therefore be nullified. Defining Preemption

Drawing from the premise of the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and the Supreme Court’s interpretation, federal law can preempt state law in two ways. First, federal law can preempt state law when federal law explicitly asserts so; this is called express preemption. Second, federal law can preempt state law by implication; this is called implied preemption. Under implied preemption, federal law can preempt state law when Congress intends federal law to “occupy the field” in a particular area; this is called field preemption. Alternatively, federal law preempts state law when state law conflicts with federal law; this is called conflict preemption. Conflict preemption occurs when it is impossible to reconcile federal law and state law, or when state law stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of federal objectives. The Federal Government’s Argument

In analyzing this case, we believe that provisions of S.B. 1070 are preempted by federal immigration laws for three reasons: i. S.B. 1070 purports to regulate immigration, an exclusively federal power ii. Federal law has traditionally occupied the field of immigration policy iii. S.B. 1070 conflicts with federal law.

Immigration Regulation and Enforcement is Reserved for the Federal Government The power to regulate immigration is exclusively federal. The Supreme Court has repeatedly confirmed that the “Federal Government […] is entrusted with full and exclusive responsibility for the conduct of affairs with foreign sovereignties.” Congress has answered that federal responsibility by enacting the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a comprehensive regulatory scheme designed to control immigration. Exclusive federal regulation of immigration is necessary because of the foreign policy interests at stake. It is essential that the United States presents a uniform policy on immigration because the nation’s relations with aliens residing in its territory are intertwined with the United States’ relationships with other nations. The necessity for a unified and coherent national set of immigration laws is further evidenced in an 1840 case, Holmes v. Jennison, where the Court ruled that “every part of the Constitution shows that our whole foreign intercourse was intended to be committed to the hands of the general government […] it was one of the main objects of the Constitution to make us, so far as regarded our foreign relations, one people, and one nation.” Permitting states to institute their own immigration statutes would have a negative impact on foreign policy, and additional negative consequences would arise from 50 dissident state immigration laws. In 1968 case, Zschernig v. Miller, the courts overturned a state statute involving probate procedures—an area traditionally regulated by states—declaring that the state law had “great potential for disruption or embarrassment” of the United States in its foreign relation and that this interference would have “a direct impact upon foreign relations.” This case supports the notion that state laws that interfere with the federal government’s conduct of foreign relations should be invalidated. Federal Law Has Traditionally Occupied the Field of Immigration Policy Federal authority regarding immigration is granted by the Constitution’s provisions that expressly permit to establish “a uniform Rule of Naturalization,” and to engage in foreign affairs. As noncitizens are defined...
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