California has successfully demonstrated how state action can thwart federal goals by simply refusing to cooperate.

The federal government wants states to help enforce its immigration laws. Californians believe those laws often violate basic human rights and civil liberties, and the state decided to act – or more accurately stated – refuse to act. The TRUST Act denies ICE the help it desires in detaining suspected undocumented immigrants and it has proven quite effective.

The TRUST Act mandates that local law enforcement quickly release detained immigrants who don’t have serious criminal records. Since the TRUST Act was passed, there has been a 44 percent drop in deportations for 15 of the 23 counties that made data available to the Associated Press. Whether you agree with the substance of the law or not, it is hard to argue with the results. It proves states can have a profound effect when they implement their own policies, regardless of what the feds have to say about it.

In fact, James Madison suggested this very strategy in Federalist 46, Madison wrote that the means of opposition is powerful and at hand “should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States.” He goes on to say the strategy would even work for “warrantable measures.” Madison’s means of opposition included “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union.” On other words, whether the federal act is legitimate or not, states can thwart it simply by refusing to cooperate.

California took Madison’s advice on the immigration issue and it clearly worked, proving the “Father of the Constitution” correct in his strategy.

The feds don’t want Americans to understand this. They don’t want you and I to harness this great power possessed by the states. They want you to think that the only way you can change things is by intermittently showing up at the voting booth and pulling the lever for the red team or the blue team. That constitutes a recipe for disaster, not reform. We can affect true reform at the state and local levels. Through local grassroots action, we can wiggle free from overbearing federal control. California’s immigration laws provide and example of how this can be done.

By refusing to cooperate with ICE, California boldly demonstrated its sovereignty. The feds are unable to intervene to stop this not because of some Obama scheme, but simply because the federal government lack the resources. The feds cannot be everywhere at once. It is not because of lack of trying. Bureaucratic limitations prevent them from doing so. If we act intelligently, we can use this to our advantage.

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