Sanctuary Jurisdictions Are Not Practicing Federalism

The Ninth Circuit Court is the latest to rule against the Trump administration's enforcement.

Lewis Morris · Apr. 23, 2019

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has proven once again why it is a reliable rubber stamp for the Left. In a seriously flawed ruling late last week, a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit unanimously upheld the majority of California’s laws making it a sanctuary state — laws that were deliberately designed to frustrate the federal government’s ability to enforce immigration law.

The ruling was in response to a Justice Department challenge to laws passed in the early days of the anti-Trump, pro-illegal immigrant hysteria. The three laws passed by the California legislature included the following: AB 450, which prohibits private employers from voluntarily cooperating with federal immigration officials; SB 54, which prevents state and local law-enforcement officials from providing information to the feds about the release date of deportable criminal aliens in their custody; and AB 103, which imposes a state-run inspection and review regime on the federal detention of aliens held in facilities under federal contracts.

U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez threw out the Justice Department lawsuit challenging the laws in 2018, and the Trump administration promptly appealed. It is likely to be appealed again, this time to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Ninth Circuit ruling did find that part of AB 103 improperly intruded on federal authority, claiming that certain portions of the law imposing additional economic burden on the federal government were invalid. As for the other laws, the appeals court ruled that California was well within its constitutional right to create laws that prevented it from being compelled to follow federal statute.

George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin agreed with this illogic, claiming that the Ninth Circuit ruling was a triumph for federalism.

They’re all wrong.

While it is a true and established legal principle that the federal government cannot “commandeer” state governments to enforce federal law, that is not what is happening here. In California, and many other state and municipal jurisdictions providing material comfort and legal sanctuary to illegal immigrants, the state government is actively pursuing a course of action to impede the federal government from enforcing federal law.

When states create laws within their jurisdictions that are meant to manage what goes on within their borders, that is federalism. When states create laws to deliberately block the federal government from doing its constitutionally mandated duty, that’s anarchy.

The Supreme Court established back in 1875 that the federal government is the final arbiter when it comes to immigration law, and that the federal government holds the power to enforce that law, partly through its regulation of interstate commerce. Until Trump became president, no one gave too much more thought to the matter. But now that leftists are determined to erase America’s borders in a diabolical attempt to grow their own ranks via illegal immigrants put on the government dole, Democrats will do anything they can to frustrate federal enforcement of immigration. And their friends and cohorts in the courts and the media are going along.

Somin, a usually reliable legal scholar, tried to further bolster his erroneous reading of the Ninth Circuit’s actions by mentioning that there was an “ideologically disparate group of judges” appointed by both Republicans and Democrats who challenged Trump’s actions on immigration. Apparently, this is supposed to add weight to the most recent Ninth Circus fiasco. The only reasonable response to this factoid would be, so what? Many of these judges who have rejected the opportunity to enforce immigration law were appointed by presidents who also failed to do anything to fix our immigration problem. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all paid a lot of lip service to the issue, but none was willing to put their political reputation on the line to do anything. In fact, Obama did more than any previous president to actively subvert our immigration system.

The Trump administration is unlikely to give up the fight just because a “bipartisan” group of judges ruled against it. President Trump has vowed to do something about immigration since the heady days on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016. By continuing to push for protected borders and enforcement of perfectly reasonable existing immigration laws, he has exposed the enemies of Liberty for their protections and material support for illegal immigrants at the expense of everyone else.

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