For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON, DC – As the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on two anti-immigrant pieces of legislation today, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), called on Members of Congress to oppose bills that would make communities less safe and that could be found unconstitutional. Latino state lawmakers stated that the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” (H.R. 3003) and “Kate’s Law” (H.R. 3004) fly against the principles of states’ rights and would cut critical law enforcement funding for neighborhoods across the country.
“Scapegoating immigrants is bad enough but passing legislation, such as H.R. 3003, that is likely unconstitutional and that would restrict states’ rights goes against the very conservative principles that the majority in Congress holds dear. In case after case, Supreme Court precedent has established that the federal government cannot take away federal funding from states that refuse to enforce federal acts in such a manner. This is known as the ‘anti-commandeering’ doctrine and it goes back as far as 1842 and was reaffirmed in 2012. Other cases have also clearly decided that immigration enforcement is a federal duty and therefore not a state or local responsibility. We therefore call on all Members of the US House of Representatives to defeat this ill-conceived, mean-spirited, and dangerous piece of legislation,” said NHCSL Executive Director Kenneth Romero-Cruz, an attorney.
NHCSL reminded Members of Congress that “anti-commandeering” is a long-held legal doctrine dating back to the federalist papers and has been confirmed in four landmark Supreme Court cases, as early as Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) and as recently as National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebilius (2012). In Printz v. U.S. (1997), the late Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority of the Court, held that:
"The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case-by-case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty."
“Regarding the so-called ‘Kate’s Law,’ it is ironic that the bill is coming to a vote on the same week that ICE Director Thomas Homan has reiterated that individuals that are born in the United States are actually more likely to commit crimes than the foreign born. These pieces of legislation are solutions looking for a problem. Withholding federal law enforcement and other funds from states with the purported aim of fighting crime is a cruel contradiction that will scapegoat immigrants and make our communities less safe,” NHCSL President and Pennsylvania State Representative Ángel Cruz said.
H.R. 3003 is opposed by the Fraternal Order of Police and other law enforcement and state/local government associations.
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The NHCSL is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 390 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.