Sanctuary Cities

Trump Order Opens New State-Level Immigration Law Fights

Texas and California represent polar opposites on federal cooperation.

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Protesters
Chine Nouvelle/SIPA/Newscom

As President Donald Trump seeks a crackdown against illegal immigration and particularly against sanctuary cities (municipalities that have policies of not checking the immigration status of citizens in police encounters), state legislators are figuring out how they want to respond.

Concepts of immigration and federalism as they play out in practice within the United States can create some unusual and polarizing dynamics. It becomes extremely obvious with states on the border to Mexico. While we see immigration-focused legislation from these states frequently, we're seeing a fresh round due to Trump's power.

California and Texas are taking completely opposite tacks (probably not a surprise to anybody). Some California legislators want to turn the entire state into a "sanctuary," and prohibit its cities and counties from cooperating with federal immigration officials. Texas wants to do almost the opposite, potentially punishing cities or counties that don't assist immigration officials in tracking down and deporting people in the country illegally. (And Trump has declared he may try to withhold federal money from California for its protecting of illegal immigrants, so every choice has the potential for official government punishment of some sort.)

California State Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) has introduced legislation that would prohibit the state and (probably more importantly) local governments from spending money to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws in many situations. The law is broader than just covering police—it also covers schools and other government agencies. To be clear, it doesn't stop federal officials from coming into California and enforcing immigration policies, and if a judge issues a warrant for an immigrant's arrest for crimes, nothing there is going to change. The goal of De Leon's legislation is to essentially treat immigrants in California the same way they treat residents regardless of legal status. He's also calling for data collection rules that will ensure that information the state collects about immigration status is not shared outside the state of California.

Texas is actively attempting to stop its local governments from following in California's footsteps. Gov. Greg Abbot has cut about $2 million in law enforcement funds to Travis County (home of Austin) because it has just implemented a policy limiting what information local agencies share with federal immigration officials.

Texas State Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) has introduced SB4, state legislation that does the opposite of what California does. It mandates that law enforcement officials cooperate with immigration officials when asked to do so. It also requires that when a law enforcement officer arrests a person who is unable to provide proof of citizenry, that officer investigate to see whether that person is in the country illegally and both inform the judge or magistrate handling the case and record it in the person's case file. But the law also emphasizes that police cannot simply pull people over in their vehicles or perform searches of homes and business solely to determine whether folks are in the country legally.

Both laws are complicated and their potential impacts tough to evaluate. Read the California bill here. Read the Texas bill here. The California law doesn't prohibit communicating the immigration status of a specific individual to the feds, apparently in order to keep it from attempting to pre-empt federal law.

While divergent, what both state laws have in common is a desire for state governments to interfere in cities developing their own policies for the purposes of enforcing a highly politicized set of regulations over which many Americans have extremely polarized opinions. California's bill is obviously an attempt for coastal Democrats to overrule the attitudes of people living in the more conservative inside parts of the state. Many counties with smaller populations within the state went for Trump, and conservatism manifests in rural California in the same kind of desire for stricter immigration regulations as that in other Western states. If there weren't an interest in some communities it cooperating with immigration officials, the state wouldn't need to pass a law to stop it.

By contrast, what's happening in Texas is not unlike what happened in North Carolina, where the predominantly conservative state legislature passed a law to overrule Charlotte's City Council adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its antidiscrimination laws.

In that sense, both California's and Texas' bills should perhaps make libertarians uncomfortable, regardless of whether they support any particular outcome. Note that when California started decriminalizing—and then legalizing—marijuana, for a time the Department of Justice continued enforcing the law and putting people in prison. Criticism then was generally focused on federal behavior. Some local law enforcement and local governments assisted the feds. Some did not. Many cities made (and are still making) their own rules regarding growth and sales within the framework the state created. It's possible to be critical of municipal policy decisions while still not calling for some massive top-down state law to try to "fix" everything, especially when one political party has control over almost all the levers of power. If the citizens of Austin believed that illegal or undocumented immigrants were making their city more dangerous, they can certainly let their leaders know at the ballot box.

Regardless of whether either of those laws should be supported or ignored, absolutely nobody should support this awful proposed law in Arizona that would require not just drivers but passengers in vehicles to carry valid identification to show law enforcement on demand. Failure to have such identification would be a misdemeanor.

Arizona wouldn't allow police to just pull cars over just to check IDs, but it's very clearly an effort to give police more tools to intimidate and detain people regardless of their legal status. It's a very obvious "Papers, Please!" demand that a free citizenry should and must reject.

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  1. “Regardless of whether either of those laws should be supported or ignored, absolutely nobody should support this awful proposed law in Arizona that would require not just drivers but passengers in vehicles to carry valid identification to show law enforcement on demand. Failure to have such identification would be a misdemeanor.”

    My understanding is that Iowa has such a law. Are there other states that require passengers to care identification with them?

    1. https://casetext.com/case/stufflebeam-v-harris

      This case seems to suggest that an officer can ask a passenger for an ID, but that they are not legally required to provide one if it is not related to a pertinent investigation.

      1. I’m sure they’re allowed to do that anywhere. They’re also apparently allowed to shoot your dog and beat up your grandma. But they don’t typically do that.

        1. I never said they should be allowed to do this. I’m asking if it is legally allowable.

          Why can’t people sort out the difference between what is ‘legal’ and what is ‘bad policy’.

          I’m not commenting on the policy

          1. Why is everyone so overly sensitive today? Did Trump [fill in blank here]?

            I can almost guarantee you it’s legally allowable. And even if it’s not, a cop might do it anyway. What’s anyone going to do about it? They get away with murder, does anyone believe that they can’t get away with asking people for ID, just because?

    2. This is why conservotards are known as conservotards and why they’re sometimes almost as bad as progs.

    3. That’s… insane. What if your passenger is 4 years old, or from out of state, or out of country (legally!)?

      1. *4 year old being led away with plastic ties on tiny wrists*

    4. no State will ever require any such thing as it doesn’t exist. Of course it’s very easy to work up a prosecution and arrest.

      There is No Such Thing as the ” Department of Positive Identification”

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    6. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour… This is what I do

      =========================== http://www.4dayjobs.com

  2. I’m sure a libertarian commentariat will be delighted that a state is standing up and refusing to cooperate with overreaching federal law enforcement.

      1. You can’t expect me to take your argument seriously if it’s not in all caps. Do you even Trump bro

    1. Absolutely. All state efforts to resist federal authority is good, but the courts will decide what is the purview of the federal government and the states. With regards to immigration, the courts seem to have long identified it as under the purview of the federal government.

      Remember Arizona v. the US? The Supreme Court seemed to think that immigration enforcement was the purview of the federal government and thus struck down parts of Arizona’s law targeting illegal immigrants.

      I’m sure you were really disappointed by that ruling, seeing as you are so principled and all.

      1. You seem to be inferring a lot about my opinions regarding federal policy from a post that said…nothing about federal policy?

        1. Ummm….maybe you should re-read your original comment.

      2. I think Reason would support California going full communist if it was States Rights.
        Which is definitely possible considering hispanics outnumber whites, how hispanics vote(see PEW research polls) and that the whites in California are the most left leaning in the nation.

        Don’t worry California will resemble mexico in 50 years. Government is a result of the culture of its people. Open borders libertarians still haven’t figured that one out.

  3. I like the signs in the photo. Really? I don’t know anyone who’s opposed to immigration. I know there must be some, I see them posting hateful shit on Breitbart and other places. But I have to believe that most Americans are not anti-immigration. I thought we’re talking about illegal immigration here? Of course, the sign holders know that, they’re just trying to make it look like half of Americans are anti-immigration.

    Also, tell you what. If the illegals can build makeshift dwellings all over Beverly Hills and other exclusive zip codes in LA and SanFran, like poor people do in Rio, I will totally support illegal immigration. As soon as I see a law passed in Cali allowing just that, I’ll join the protesters for open borders. Until that, STFU, you hypocrites.

    1. I don’t know anyone who’s opposed to immigration.

      LOL

      1. I don’t personally know anyone who’s opposed to legal immigration. I thought that was clear enough. You do?

        1. Of course I do. A good number of Americans have always seemingly been against any kind of immigration.

          1. Wow, where do you live? Alabama?

            1. What did the good people of Alabama do to you?

              1. Nothing. I just remember the time an Asian friend of mine told me he was driving through Bamy, stopped at a restaurant, and no one would wait on him.

              2. they just tried to shut down our ports. and they fired on Ft Sumpter.

          2. I mean, I do remember some older folks back 30-40 years ago saying ‘Damn Mexicans taking our jerbz’ sort of stuff, but most or all of those people are dead now.

            1. Have you never heard of Pat Buchanan?

              1. I don’t personally know Pat Buchanan.

                1. he’s an old guy from 30-40 years ago

              2. Of course …

                Personally, I was proud to be a member of the Immoral Minority

        2. There’s obviously people in favour of restrictions on legal immigration as well, but that tends to be dependent on qualifiers that vary. Some want a specific lower amount of annual yearly immigration than currently, some want to get rid of previous immigration legislation (the green card lottery, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, etc.), and some want immigration restrictions based on specific characteristics (as seen here in the Reason comments, nowadays it tends to be restrictions on Muslims). But you’re right in the fact that I have yet to really see any serious argument to completely seal the borders and allow no immigrants whatsoever. The discussion is far more about what the immigration policy should be.

          1. But you’re right in the fact that I have yet to really see any serious argument to completely seal the borders and allow no immigrants whatsoever.

            Serious arguments, and what I think some people want – as some have always wanted in America – are not the same.

            1. That ‘some’ is likely restricted to a very small minority that have no power in the public discussion.

              Even Buchanan’s full stop on immigration is a ‘time-out’, not a permanent idea.

              1. I tend to agree with you, but then again we have recently had a serious argument to ban legal green card holders, as well as an entire religion, so a ridiculous argument a year ago has become serious argument right now.

          2. A legal immigrant is a illegal alien without citizenship to be watched and not forgotten but of course Obama tended to allow them to wander advance Sharia law and well you see where we are today.

    2. that all sounds very trite and self satisfied, but there really is no such thing as “illegal immigration”.

      immigration is analog to “importation”, so take it from there.

  4. Regardless of whether either of those laws should be supported or ignored, absolutely nobody should support this awful proposed law in Arizona that would require not just drivers but passengers in vehicles to carry valid identification to show law enforcement on demand. Failure to have such identification would be a misdemeanor.

    Arizona wants to become East Germany?

    1. That depends, were Kraftwerk osties or westies?

    2. To become East Germany, they’ll have to confiscate half of the tax payers income and let in a million Syrian refugees. They’ll also need to drink a LOT more beer. Good beer, not the piss water we call beer round these here parts.

    3. Maybe they don’t want to become Mexico

    4. yes. Trump Party . members will have special privileges and ID cards to prove their sanction.

  5. It’s a very obvious “Papers, Please!” demand that a free citizenry should and must reject.

    Why? What are you hiding?

    1. opioids and a lard ass

  6. But the law also emphasizes that police cannot simply pull people over in their vehicles or perform searches of homes and business solely to determine whether folks are in the country legally.

    Uh-huh.

    1. *officer smashes taillight with baton*

      “I pulled you over today because you have a broken taillight. Papers, please, all of ya’ll”

      1. all of ya’ll

        “FAKE COP!!! RUN!!!!”

        Everyone knows it’s just “all y’all”.

        1. That unnecessary “of” is definitely a grammatical error that an officer of the law would never make.

    2. Isn’t the Border Patrol doing just that in areas up to 100 miles inside the border?

      Wait until they decide that that includes the ocean border as well and start those spot searches up and down the Cali coast.

  7. You know who else required every person in their country to carry identifying documents at all times?

    1. The Principality of Sealand?

      1. The president of every bar?

  8. RE: Trump Order Opens New State-Level Immigration Law Fights
    Texas and California represent polar opposites on federal cooperation.

    Trump won’t win this one.
    There are too many immigrants coming into this country and will assimilate quickly as they usually do.
    What Trump doesn’t get is most of these immigrants are grateful to be here and appreciate the freedom, both economic and political, they never enjoyed while living in their native land. They usually make good capitalists and see through the bullshit socialism offers, unlike a lot of spoiled, clueless and over-educated useful idiots we have here in this country.

    1. add in spoiled, undereducated useless idiots too like every trumptarded voter who would never bother if there were poll taxes as it’s supposed to be, in order to prevent this kind of malarchy

    2. What Trump doesn’t get is most of these immigrants are grateful to be here and appreciate the freedom, both economic and political, they never enjoyed while living in their native land.

      You’d have an argument if these mostly turned into Republican voters. Since they overwhelmingly vote Democratic, it’s pretty clear that they don’t appreciate our freedoms, but instead appreciate our government services, social safety net, and identity politics, those being the mainstays of Democratic politics.

  9. “…every choice has the potential for official government punishment of some sort.”

    This is practically the definition of govt.

  10. There should be a distinction between states rights and baseline cooperation between law enforcement. While it seems clearly unlawful for the Feds to commandeer State resources to do their job, it is difficult to understand how States can selectively refuse to cooperate in information transfer. If I’m understanding it correctly, the concept of sanctuary cities is that they will refuse to communicate information obtained in the normal course of their enforcement duties relative to immigration status. So….if they arrest someone and learn that that person is an illegal immigrant, they will purposely withhold that information from the Feds. It would seem to be on par with refusing to tell the Feds that someone they arrest for a local crime has a warrant out for an out of state crime.

    State function requires a minimum of reciprocity between states and feds, particularly regarding IDs, drivers licences, taxes, etc. Without that, do we even really have a United States or rather of collection of like-minded countries. Heck, even the EU respects basic legal reciprocity between countries.

    Sanctuary cities/states corrode the rule-of-law that holds things together. They are essentially asking for ICE to conduct sweeps in the cities. I’m sure they’ll love that when the Feds refuse to abide by their faux ‘sanctuary’ premise.

    1. do we even really have a United States or rather of collection of like-minded countries

      United States was originally plural.

      It doesn’t have much bearing on most of your argument, but I think the sentence I quoted sets up a false dichotomy.

  11. Here’s hoping that RGB will run out of fresh interns to suck blood from and finally turn to dust, so that Trump can quickly appoint two conservative justices.

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