The Virginian Federalist is the first out of the gate with an evaluation of the decision in Hazelton, PA and how it might apply to what is happening on the illegal alien front in Prince William County. Since this topic is certainly going to be raised at the next meeting of the Prince William County Human Rights Commission, the timing of this post is perfect. The core issue in this debate is federal preemption versus the powers granted to localities under the Tenth Amendment. I think Virginian Federalist is absolutely on the right track here:
As the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution reserves to the States or the people all powers not granted to the United States by the constitution, it can be argued that no power was granted under Article I section 8 or elsewhere for the Congress to regulate the employment of individuals not in interstate commerce. If the Congress had no power to regulate such employment it had no power to preempt state or local laws on the subject of employment. It is a federalist issue here of over reaching federal authority preempting the power of states and their political subdivisions to ensure that business that they license not carry out illegal activities. I posit that the Congress has exceeded the powers granted to it to the detriment of the people, a tyranny.
The power of localities to enact ordinances regarding permitting and licensing under this provision of the constitution has been upheld numerous times and has never been effectively challenged as long as the action wasn’t inconsistent with state or federal law. Given the utter failure of the federal government to effectively address the illegal alien problem, holding localities hostage to the federal government’s inaction is not only nonsensical, but runs contrary to the plain meaning of the United States Constitution. If preemption in this regard freezes all local autonomy, we no longer have a federal republic.
Yes, the federal government has the power to regulate immigration, and nothing in Prince William County or Hazleton, PA seeks to undermine that power. But since hiring, sheltering or providing benefits to illegal aliens is prohibited under federal law, having localities control licensing and permitting so as to require compliance with existing federal law, and requiring state and local companies to comply with federal law helps to address demonstrated state and local problems, saying that federal laws somehow preempt these ordinances makes little sense from both a practical and legal perspective. This doesn’t contradict federal law, but buttresses it. To say that is contrary to federal law actually undermines the laws we do have.
Of note, the recent decision in Hazleton is not entirely damaging to what Prince William County is trying to do. The court upheld that restrictions on illegal aliens do not violate the Fourteenth Amendment, which is largely the basis of the arguments offered by detractors, and which undercuts their legal position rather severely. Hopefully, as the Virginian Federalist has the opportunity to delve into this further, further legal analysis will help to bolster his commentary. He’s on the right track, and I’d like to see him run this down to it’s conclusion.
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