Whenever the courts are asked to do what the congress and president should, it is a sloppy and irrational business. Of course, that is to suggest that the way they make laws and set policy is any better.
President Obama a month ago asked the Supreme Court to place a stay on a lower court ruling that ordered the military to stop enforcing the “Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask” policy on gays and lesbians in the services. He wanted time for congress and his office to come to terms with the certainty that the court would rule in favor of gays and lesbians. The court agreed, at least for a while, but now there is a deadline for action. If Senator John McCain gets his way, it will be back into the courts when the deadline passes.
Working its way through the court system are a few other issues that would not be there if congress was working properly. One of the biggest issues, yes bigger than “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, is immigration. Decisions from various jurisdictions will leave a confusing and disruptive policy that will not work.
As an example, Arizona, wishing to solve a overstated problem there, is being challenge on a host of immigration laws in the courts. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007. It states that businesses that knowing employee undocumented workers could have their license revoked by the state. It is being called the business death penalty by opponents. The United States Chamber of Commerce and the Obama administration are challenging the law. They say that immigration is a federal issue, so that states should not be able to take action.
Businesses that hire undocumented workers is at the core of the issue. That is why Arizona enacted and is enforcing a law like the Legal Arizona Workers Act. If there are no jobs available for undocumented workers, they wouldn’t be arriving. In a post to this blog in April, End Immigration in Five Steps, one of the steps suggested was to enforce laws at the federal level that require employers to make sure every employee was properly documented. Plus, employers must learn to fear I.C.E. (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) by unannounced audits of businesses on a national and local level.
But the creation and enforcement of immigration laws must made at the federal level. Each court, like with any issue, will make decisions based on individual cases and circumstances. Overlapping and overreaching decisions will create a loose policy that will confuse employees and employers. This will waste resources in an attempt to meet various standards from all across the country.
The reason we have government is to enforce a consistent set of rules that we can all agree on. Congress needs to act on immigration reform and many other issues. Then, allocate money to enforce the laws. If not, individuals and businesses will be caught not knowing what to do.