Sunday, May 27, 2018
Editorials

Immigration should be left to the feds

The scapegoating of illegal immigrants by state legislatures in Florida and elsewhere would be quieted if the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona's controversial immigration law intrudes on federal authority. Only the federal government has the power to dictate foreign affairs and immigration policy. But states have been elbowing in, passing draconian laws against illegal immigrants that encourage police to racially profile. The high court hears arguments today that Arizona's law treads upon federal power, and the court should side with the Obama administration by blocking state efforts to interfere with federal policies on immigration.

The Florida Legislature was more focused on redistricting this session, but in 2011 it grappled with Arizona-style bills before dropping the issue for the time being. Gov. Rick Scott made a campaign pledge to bring an anti-immigration law like Arizona's to Florida, and the issue is a centerpiece cause for tea party activists. Whether the pernicious issue will reappear with added momentum depends on what happens in Arizona vs. United States. The challenge focuses on key parts of the 2010 Arizona law, which transforms local law enforcement into immigration police to scare illegal immigrants into leaving the state.

Arizona claims it has the right to legislate in areas that don't directly conflict with federal law, including anti-immigration matters. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi signed on to an amicus brief with 15 other states, supporting Arizona's claims. Meanwhile 11 states filed a brief on the federal government's side declaring immigration enforcement the province of federal authorities.

Arizona's law directs police to determine the citizenship status of anyone stopped or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion they are illegal immigrants; makes it a state crime for those without legal documents to work or seek work; and requires noncitizens to always carry documents proving their legal status or face criminal charges. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside these provisions on federal pre-emption grounds. If the Supreme Court stands with precedent, it will affirm the appellate court.

While civil rights issues are not before the court, Arizona's law and copycat measures in other states have had a significant impact on Hispanic communities, whose members are most at risk for having law enforcement treat their skin color and language skills alone as evidence of criminal conduct. Families have moved away; vibrant immigrant business communities have emptied out. In farm states such as Georgia, farmers have found it difficult to employ the temporary labor needed to get their crops harvested.

But what the justices will be focusing on is whether federal immigration law already covers enforcement in a way that bars states from enacting their own rules. The Constitution's supremacy clause tells states that their laws are subordinate to federal law. Because foreign policy and immigration are uniquely federal functions, states should not be free to be more punitive than federal law. The eight justices to consider the case (Justice Elena Kagan is recused) should set Arizona's law aside. If they don't, expect Florida to become the next battleground over immigration.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18