Guest blog by Anthony Weigel, Chair of AILA’s Missouri/Kansas Chapter

As each new holiday season approaches, parents of younger children are challenged to find the perfect gift. The Zhu Zhu pets were all the rage in 2009, but Squinkies are reportedly this year’s “must-have – but impossible to get” items.

Candidates for public office are no different than parents of young children. Each is in search of the right policy idea to spell success in November. This year, the shelves are stocked full of old stand-bys, like lower taxes, less government, and more jobs. Also on the shelves are relatively newer products sold without the benefit of any “Consumer Reports” reviews.

This year’s hot items seem to be the authorized knock-offs of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 and other varieties of non-federal immigration proposals, covering topics such as employment, human smuggling, identity fraud, even birthright citizenship. Who can blame them? They have seen a smooth-talking, handsome, well-dressed salesman on TV and heard him on the radio. They can’t help but want an immigration enforcement law of their very own. For some, keeping up with the Brewers is a high priority.

However, before prospective legislators rush to the store, latch onto a non-federal immigration bill, rush to cash register and pay the price, they should be aware of the following defects.

First, non-federal immigration laws don’t work as promised. If they are of any effect, they may only cause a portion of a jurisdiction’s population to move to another. In the few states where these types have been enforced, they have resulted in only a small number of formal investigative actions resulting in even fewer sanctions. Be wary of claims that one jurisdiction’s actions will solve the U.S.’s immigration problems.

Second, there are no warranties, expressed or implied. So if one ends up in court, and loses at the first and second levels, and possibly the third, remember – we told you so.

Third, after-sales service costs extra. Jurisdictions adopting and then defending non-federal, immigration enforcement laws have spent millions of dollars to defend them, most of the time without any success – real examples of “bridges to nowhere.”

Fourth, they are engineered on faulty logic:

• The main selling point of enforcement-only, non-federal immigration laws (a/k/a Juan Crow laws) is that they will solve our country’s immigration problems.
• Their main effect, however, is to cause populations to relocate.
• For these laws to live up to their promise, every state would need to enact an identical law and enforce it uniformly.
• So, ultimately, proponents of non-federal immigration laws are advocating that we need enforcement-only, federal laws to solve our country’s immigration problems.
• The U.S. has tried the federal, enforcement-only approach since 1996 and it has failed. According to some experts, Congress’ efforts in this regard have actually contributed to the U.S.’s illegal immigration problem.

Candidates, please beware. Non-federal immigration laws are inherently defective. Just like parents of young children, you have some responsibilities now. We all have to grow up sometime. As hard as it may be, please resist the temptation to buy cheap, mass-produced gimmicks. Instead, please invest the time to engage in the dialogue of how we can comprehensively repair our federal immigration laws. We’ll all be better off if you do.