This is how a conversation would go if those in the Federal Government (FG) involved in this mess, and the legislators and Governor of Arizona (A) were single entities. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) only has a small, but important part in this convo.

 

FG: Here are the immigration laws that I have made. The Constitution says I am supposed to make these laws. I am not going to enforce them very well.

A: Okay, I will make it illegal at the state level to violate the federal law. Show me where the Constitution says I can’t enforce the same laws that you make.

FG: Nu-uh! That’s not fair!

A: Well, we aren’t going to make different laws. They are your laws. I am just going to help you out because you stink at…uh…I mean, are having difficulty enforcing your own laws. All I did was make it illegal at the state level to break federal laws regarding immigration.

FG: Oh, yeah? Well, you aren’t supposed to do that! That’s my job!

A: But, you’re NOT doing it, and I am paying the price.

FG: That’s it. I’m suing.

SCOTUS: Well, Arizona still gets to check the status of every person they arrest, but since the rest of the laws are already on the books, written by Federal Government, they have been preempted.

A: My laws are illegal?

SCOTUS: Nope. They are just already on the books at the federal level.

A: So, they are bad laws?

SCOTUS: Not at all. You just can’t duplicate.

A: But, where does it say that I can’t make it illegal to break federal law?

SCOTUS: Sorry…what were you saying? Can’t hear you…*

FG: Hey, Arizona. Now that you can’t enforce the laws I’ve written, don’t call me EVER if you find someone in your state illegally. Buzz off. You now have a totally open and indefensible border.

A: (mouth hanging open)

 

Yep. You read that right. The POTUS had DHS tell Arizona to never call ICE. Wow.

 

I’d like the last part of the conversation to go like this:

A: Oh, ok. Well, if that’s how it’s supposed to be, I won’t make it a law on the state level for it to be illegal to counterfeit money, not pay federal taxes, or open a business that competes with the Post Office. I will also stay out of it when businesses in my state don’t pay federal taxes. You will have to find them yourself. Good luck with that. We wouldn’t want anyone to find out that Arizona is a safe harbor for tons and tons of money. That would be a crying shame.

 

 

*To be clear, some justices dissented, and Scalia came out with a brilliant statement, “But to say, as the court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing” it? “But to say, as the court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of federal immigration law that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind.”