Should state and local police be required to help enforce federal laws?

Posted by $ CBJ 5 years, 6 months ago to Government
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This issue is currently front and center due to Trump’s immigration policy, but it is relevant in a broader context also. Using Objectivist principles, I think valid arguments can be presented on either side of this debate. I’m not a fan of “open borders”, but I think that within certain limits, state and local governments have the right to determine the extent to which they are willing to actively cooperate with federal authorities in enforcing federal laws.

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  • Posted by ObjectiveAnalyst 5 years, 6 months ago
    Hello CBJ,
    I quite agree, but the Constitution has a supremacy clause which the federal statist government has exploited at every opportunity. However, naturalization is one of the enumerated powers delegated to the federal government, so they have more standing than many other areas where they have actually usurped power.

    Some argue that immigration is not naturalization and thus Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 is not definitive on the matter of "immigration." This could be seen as a distinction without a difference. By and large, the supreme court has sided with the federal government, granting them supreme authority.

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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 5 years, 6 months ago
    The laws you favor today to be used against other people will be used tomorrow against you.

    I live in Austin and I voted for Sheriff Sally Hernandez. Unlike the city police who are (at worst) armed bureaucrats, the sheriff is elected by the people. In most states in America, the county sheriff is constitutionally mandated to operate the local jails first, and then to serve warrants, and enforce other laws.

    Sheriff Hernandez said that she would honor any court order, but that the sheriff's office is not obligated to honor requests from other agencies. If the immigration authorities can -- without a warrant, without a court order -- hold someone who has posted bond or served time or is found not guilty, can the US Department of Education or the National Park Service or the water department or library of a nearby city?

    Moreover, in this case, Sheriff Hernandez said that she would make exceptions for charges of heinous crimes such as murder and human trafficking.

    Remember that the terms of bond or release are ordered by a judge with competent jurisdiction, not the sheriff. Likewise, once innocence is established by a court, it is unlawful for the sheriff to hold a person longer.

    The ultimate question is whether the USA is a federal republic or a national republic. If we have one national government, like France or Japan, administered downward through prefects and precincts, then the local law enforcement agencies obey the orders of the national organization. If we have a federal republic, then the federal government is constrained by barriers that protect the enforcement powers of the states, counties, townships, and cities (or villages).
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 6 months ago
    This is an interesting and conflicted question for me. I am for local gov't having autonomy to try radically different laws. But immigration is a federal issue. I am strongly against ignoring the law. If we don't actually enforce a law, we should remove it. Otherwise it becomes an excuse for officials to exercise arbitrary power. Even further complicating it, I am for mostly open borders, but my opinion on the law shouldn't come into play.

    I think of this issue as similar to when we had a national speed limit of 55 mph. I didn't agree with it, and many places openly ignored the law. This is like the federal gov't coming in and saying we have 15 million people who've been violating it during the past few years, and we need everyone to go through traffic tapes and prosecute those crimes.

    We've created a mess by looking the other way for so long.
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  • Posted by $ blarman 5 years, 6 months ago
    In the cases where the Constitution clearly grants supremacy (as noted by ObjectiveAnalyst), the only answer is yes. So the real question is does any given Federal statute have clear supremacy of application as enumerated by the Constitution. I think in the case of border control, the Feds clearly are granted superiority and local law enforcement should assist them in enforcing the laws set by Congress pertaining to Naturalization and Immigration because Congress is expressly and specifically designated as the authoritative policy body in that regard.

    It should be noted that the President has ZERO original power when it comes to border enforcement and any Executive Orders pertaining to border enforcement should instead originate as clarifications from the Legislative. The Legislative Branch should actively pursue and guard its power over emigration. It's failure to do so while Barack Obama was in office is a demonstration of the Legislative Branch's own complicity in malfeasance - a more active Legislature would have Impeached Obama over his illegal grant of amnesty and then Convicted him.

    I would, however, note that there are many individual Federal policies which should bear scrutiny prior to enforcement at a local level. These certainly include un-Constitutional infringements upon firearm ownership, land use in contravention of an activist EPA, and many more. I don't envy the local Sheriffs who have to navigate the minefield that is a plethora of conflicting and obtuse Federal regulations.
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