This week, the Washington State Attorney General’s office announced the release of newly-published guidance concerning immigration enforcement, assembled to help local government institutions recognize the limitations of federal agencies’ power to compel assistance with immigration enforcement.
This guidance comes in response to Donald Trump’s recent punitive executive orders. The Trump regime plans to increase deportations of immigrants who have allegedly committed crimes, and is moving to carry out those plans.
As we’ve seen from recent news coverage, however, new Americans do not need to have committed any crime to be targeted by federal immigration enforcement.
The Attorney General’s guidance demystifies this issue by reminding Washington municipalities that merely residing in the country without papers is not a criminal offense as recognized by the Supreme Court in Arizona v. United States of America.
While a number of cities have claimed adopted “sanctuary” resolutions declaring that new Americans will not be targeted in their jurisdictions, many people are unclear exactly what “sanctuary” means as a legal concept.
As the Attorney General’s guidance explains, states and local governments have wide-ranging rights regarding their choice to implement immigration regulations:
The federal government cannot ‘compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program,’ or compel state employees to participate in the administration of a federally enacted regulatory scheme… Voluntary cooperation with a federal scheme does not present Tenth Amendment issues.
In other words, when it comes to immigration enforcement, states and local governments cannot be deputized into the service of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or other agencies. At the same time, the state and local jurisdictions may not enact laws intended to obstruct immigration enforcement.
In an all too predictable move, the Trump regime has threatened to pull federal funding from cities claiming sanctuary status. Ferguson’s guidance explains the constitutional and legal limits the Trump regime must comply with.
These include a stipulation that the federal government cannot “use its spending power” to push the states into unconstitutional acts as well as a stipulation stating that the federal government cannot remove an amount of spending that would coerce the state into accepting federal demands. States and cities may contest removal of federal funds on these grounds, and a few already have.
Aside from detailing general rights on immigration enforcement, Ferguson’s guidance also contains more specific information for agencies such as law enforcement, K‑12 schools, and higher education institutions.
As readers know, this is not the first time Ferguson and his team have challenged the regime. Ferguson made the national news when the State of Washington sued the federal government over its infamous travel ban and has recently requested that U.S. District Court Judge James Robart extend the initial restraining order to also block the revised ban. Now, his office has followed up on those actions by providing extensive guidance to local governments on how to conscientiously respond to federal requests for assistance with immigration enforcement.