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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Monday, December 19, 2011

Not Just a Theoretical Debate

The Boston Globe (Editorial): THE SUPREME Court agreed last week to assess the constitutionality of a controversial Arizona law that expands local law enforcement's ability to crack down on illegal immigrants. But when the court takes up the case, it will only be seeing part of the picture. Because most of the law's provisions were enjoined by lower courts, the dispute has been reduced to a purely legal battle about the supremacy of federal immigration laws.

But it's also important to know how these laws are administered in practice. And the problems that state immigration laws can create are most evident not in Arizona, but in Alabama, which recently passed draconian measures requiring proof of citizenship for basic public services, including utilities. It was hastily written, and has such vague language that now both the state's Republican attorney general and governor are seeking modifications or clarifications of some provisions of the law. The troubling effects of the law are documented in a report issued last week by Human Rights Watch. These include reports that citizens of Hispanic descent have been harassed and that parents will not take sick children to local hospitals.

The legitimacy of these laws - sometimes born of legitimate concerns about porous borders but more often animated by xenophobia - can't be separated from their implementation. In the Arizona case, the Supreme Court will only hear legal arguments about the Constitution and states' rights, and there's a solid argument to be made that immigration matters should be left to the federal government alone. But the public also needs to weigh the impact that these hastily designed crackdowns have not just on illegal immigrants, but also on the economy, the legal system, and the rights of all citizens.

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