Federal Judge Strikes Down Arizona Smuggling Law

By Dan Cadman on November 10, 2014

A federal judge has struck down one of the several Arizona statutes intended to get a handle on illegal immigration; this one specifically dealing with the crime of alien smuggling. As usual, the presiding judge, Susan Bolton, held that it was an infringement on the federal government's unique prerogative where immigration laws are concerned.

According to USA Today, "Bolton ruled the state law deprives federal authorities of their exclusive right to prosecute smuggling crimes". That came as quite a surprise to me.

The federal law governing smuggling crimes can be found in Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, codified in the federal code as Title 8, § 1324. Subsection (c) of that provision says this:

Authority to arrest. No officer or person shall have authority to make any arrests for a violation of any provision of this section except officers and employees of the Service designated by the Attorney General, either individually or as a member of a class, and all other officers whose duty it is to enforce criminal laws. (Emphasis added.)

It is abundantly clear from the language that Congress recognized that state and local police officers will often be the first on the scene of smuggling ventures — as, for instance, in the case of border states such as Arizona, but also even far into the interior where highway patrol officers are concerned, given the nexus between smuggling and use of the nation's interstates for transporting loads of smuggled aliens. It is also clear that Congress recognized the desirability of giving such officers the legal tools needed to mitigate, if not completely eliminate, this evil.

But once again, the suit was brought and pressed vigorously by the Obama administration, which is famously inconsistent to the point of hypocrisy about federal supremacy in the field of immigration. After all, how can the government insist that state and local governments may not impede federal efforts, and then permit them to ignore immigration detainers filed against aliens arrested by police on criminal charges?

It is also interesting how much time, money, and legal resources have been expended by the United States Attorney's Office in Arizona — where former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was U.S. attorney and then governor — to fight these cases of federal supremacy.

If only that office spent nearly as much time tracking and prosecuting gun and hand grenade-trafficking offenders such as Jean Baptiste Kingery. The Justice Department's Office of Inspector General tells us the United States Attorney's Office so badly fumbled the case that, in the end, Kingery was taken into custody by the Mexican government after two years of repeated failure to bring charges against the man, who in the meantime smuggled hundreds of destructive devices across our southern border to drug cartels in that country. The same kind of cartels are now apparently involved with corrupt Mexican officials in the disappearance and murder of at least 43 students.

The Mexicans may be corrupt; the United States Attorney's Office, on the other hand, appears both inept and amenable to political manipulation for the worst of causes.

Topics: Arizona