These days, a lot of people who were previously supportive – have abandoned any support for federalism, the 10th Amendment, and the Constitution more generally – in favor of centralized power to stop what they see as a crisis of immigration. They blame states or localities for the problem, but is that the right approach?

Here’s an insightful commenter on a post from last week. Mark S. writes:

It is important to understand the root of the immigration “crisis,” which can be described as the presence of 11+ million “illegal” immigrants in the country, is a federal government infrastructure that simply does not do its job. Those individuals enter the country by overstaying a visa or illegally crossing an international border. Since the 1970s, employers are required to verify identify (usually with a driver’s license) and right to work in the US (usually proven with a social security card or a valid visa). Tracking visas, securing the borders and enforcing the employment laws are all functions that the federal government has taken responsibility for. The federal government maintains and operates a system of immigration courts responsible for enforcing immigration laws and deporting illegal immigrants as required.

But, as the presence of 11+ million illegal immigrants demonstrates, the federal government has simply not done its job. In years past, the federal government periodically reaches a crisis point and realizes it cannot round up and deport tens of millions of people, so it declares that from now on it will get tough on illegal immigration but deals with the illegal immigrant population with an amnesty of some sort or a “path to citizenship” for those here illegally.

It is ironic that the federal government is now demanding that state and local governments be shanghaied into helping the federal government do its job. While one could complain about resource limitations, it is the Congress (a federal agency) that allocates resources to federal immigration authorities and presumably balances the interests of immigration enforcement with competing budgetary priorities. If the level of resources is inadequate, then Congress, not state and local authorities, is responsible for allocating the correct level of resources to these federal activities. Said differently, it is disingenuous for federal authorities to complain to states about a lack of resources dedicated to immigration enforcement that federal authorities set and control.

Disingenuous indeed.

Michael Boldin

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