Most people are aware that the state of Colorado is now permitting, to a limited extent, the possession and sale of marijuana. Prior to this move, the Obama Administration announced, as noted by CNN, that it wouldn’t “challenge Colorado or other states legalizing recreational marijuana.”
By doing so the administration is giving states the green light to ignore and override federal law. As legal authority Alan Dershowitz said, “The federal government still takes the position technically that you’re violating federal law if you’re complying with the state [i.e., Colorado] law.”
This federal generosity toward the legalization of marijuana is most interesting and significant to those of us who believe in the enforcement of immigration laws. Just a few years ago Arizona and several other states passed laws to assist enforcement of immigration laws. The goal was to reduce the population of illegal aliens in those states, and the fiscal burdens and other problems that resulted.
The states were on firm legal ground because federal legislation and court rulings have upheld the right of localities and states to participate with the federal government in immigration law enforcement. Also, the states that enacted the laws took care in crafting them to keep from exceeding the guidelines of federal law.
So what happened? Almost immediately after the state laws passed, the Obama Administration’s Justice Department launched a legal jihad challenging each of them on the basis that they were “preempting” or overriding federal law.
Well, if this alleged preempting was a problem for the Justice Department, then why is the undeniable preempting by Colorado’s marijuana law not a problem now? The inescapable conclusion one must draw is that the administration’s professed concern about preemption of immigration law was just a legal smokescreen to hide its indifference to the rule of law.
Basically, for the administration, that principle is secondary to the rule of its preferences. It favors or at least tolerates the use of marijuana, but opposes the enforcement of immigration laws. So, with respect to the states, it allows the former and tries to prohibit the latter.
The administration claims that immigration law enforcement is more or less exclusively a federal responsibility. But that’s a responsibility it largely chooses to ignore. In 2010 the union that represents the agents serving in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) warned that the administration was systematically undermining immigration law enforcement. That sabotage of enforcement became blatantly obvious two years later when the administration ignored the jurisdiction of Congress as the nation’s lawmaking body and arbitrarily granted legal status and work permits to illegal aliens in the Dream Act category.
The administration’s contempt for law should serve as a warning, as Congress again this year considers legislation to grant amnesty to most or all of the illegal aliens now residing in our country. In the bill already passed by the Senate, which the administration endorses, are numerous provisions to enhance immigration law enforcement.
Given the administration’s record, those provisions – no doubt crafted to make amnesty more palatable to most Americans – most probably will have little effect. If we want immigration laws enforced, we will have to wait for a new administration, one not committed to the rule of lawlessness.