Arizona’s S.B. 1070 v.The Founders: Constitutional Accountability Center Files Brief In Historic Arizona Immigration Law Case

Constitutional Accountability Center today filed a “friend of the court” brief in the momentous Arizona immigration law case, United States v. Arizona.  In it, CAC attorneys explain how Arizona’s new immigration law is in direct conflict with the text of the U.S. Constitution, the document’s drafting history, and the Constitution’s federalist structure.  While our constitutional federalism gives state and local governments significant roles in many policy areas, our Nation’s Founders explicitly stated that the federal government has exclusive power to make the Nation’s immigration law.

Read CAC’s brief here.

“Jan Brewer and other Arizona politicians like to portray the fight over the state’s immigration law as a fight with the Obama Administration,” said Doug Kendall, President of Constitutional Accountability Center, “but the fight Arizona is picking is with our Nation’s Founders, such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, who made it absolutely clear that the federal government has the exclusive power to regulate immigration and naturalization.”

In fact, as CAC’s brief explains, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, No. 32, that the Naturalization Clause of Article 1, Section 8, “which declares that Congress shall have power ‘to establish an UNIFORM rule of naturalization throughout the United States.’  . . . must necessarily be exclusive; because if each state had power to prescribe a DISTINCT RULE, there could not be a UNIFORM RULE.” (Emphasis in original.)  Arizona’s immigration law is plainly inconsistent not only with the views of Hamilton and other Founders, but also with the changes made to the Constitution after the Civil War to guarantee national citizenship.  The Founders’ vision was reinforced by the ratification of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which established birthright citizenship and gave Congress exclusive authority over decisions to admit foreigners to national and state citizenship.

“Anti-immigration groups and politicians such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Sarah Palin forget what our Constitution’s Framers clearly knew: we are a country of immigrants,” said CAC’s Chief Counsel, Elizabeth Wydra.  “In attacking the right of citizenship at birth for children of undocumented immigrants and the balance struck in federal immigration statutes, they chip away at a critical part of the Nation’s DNA: the idea that in America, everyone deserves fair and humane treatment.”

Stay tuned to Text & History for more news and analysis as this case progresses.


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