Will the Justice Department Sue?

By Mark Krikorian on September 16, 2011

California wants to ensure that illegal aliens keep getting hired:

State poised to restrict use of immigration database

California is poised to nullify immigration enforcement ordinances in about a half dozen Inland Empire cities – and to continue to buck a national trend – by restricting the use of E-Verify, the national online database used to check the immigration status of workers.

Under the Employment Acceleration Act, passed by the state Senate last week and currently awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, state and local governments could not require California businesses to use the database to ferret out undocumented employees.

California's approach is an anomaly. States and cities across the country have passed laws that mandate use of the E-Verify system as part of a strategy to curb illegal immigration and ensure that scarce jobs go to U.S. citizens and legal residents.

This is why the state-by-state approach to toughening immigration law, while it has been politically useful, needs to give way to national changes:

The act conflicts with the Legal Workforce Act [PDF], a bill pending in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require the use of E-Verify by all American employers.

The California bill has been cited as a reason that the national legislation, which is being marked up this week in the House Judiciary Committee, is necessary.

"California has the second-highest unemployment rate in the U.S., yet elected officials in Sacramento just sent a bill to the Governor's desk that will further diminish job opportunities," bill sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said in a statement. "California's E-Verify opt-out bill shows exactly why we need a federal E-Verify law."

Cook County, where Chicago is located, has taken an even more outrageous step: releasing illegal-alien suspects despite ICE requests to hold them for pick-up. As my CIS colleague Jessica Vaughan noted here earlier this week:

Cook County, Illinois (which includes the city of Chicago) passed an ordinance last week instructing the sheriff to disregard requests from ICE to hold suspected removable aliens who are arrested. This irrational directive already is sending violent criminal aliens back to the streets instead of into ICE custody, where a few of them might actually be deported, sparing future victims. ICE director John Morton probably doesn’t care if Cook County keeps his agents from doing their job, but if Congress does, there is an easy fix – stop rewarding Cook County with millions of dollars in annual SCAAP payments until they start honoring the ICE detainers.

SCAAP is the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, that reimburses jurisdictions for some of the costs of incarcerating non-citizens. That points to a broader need for Congress to start withholding funds if states subvert immigration law by, for instance, giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens without also giving in-state rates to out-of-state American students, as required by federal law. (I'd love to hear Gov. Perry's whine for the restoration of federal money if this were to happen.) Congress has the ability to stop states from undermining American sovereignty, and it should exercise it.