The U.S. Supreme Court Weights to What Extent State Criminal Laws Are at Odds with Federal Immigration Laws
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a case that will have significant impacts on both criminal and immigration laws. The case involves an immigrant who allegedly used a fake Social Security card in order to be able to work in the state of Kansas. While federal authorities looked the other way and decided not to prosecute him for federal crimes because he was assisting with a separate but related investigation, Kansas state authorities decided to prosecute him for identity theft and false information. The question now before the Court is whether the state of Kansas is overstepping its authority in an attempt to regulate immigration, which is – and always has been – the purview of the federal government.
Immigration Law Has Always Been Under Federal Jurisdiction
Indeed, state law is preempted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which establishes how the U.S. regulates unauthorized employment. In other words, the federal government has always regulated who is authorized to work in the U.S., as well as what happens to those who are unauthorized and break the law in order to work here. And the Kansas Supreme Court agreed; holding that the state could not prosecute the defendant because federal law governs the regulation of unauthorized employment.
States Fight Back, Arguing That They Have the Right to Prosecute Identity Theft
Kansas appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that it is up to the states to dictate criminal law, and well within their authority to prosecute for identity theft. In fact, Kansas goes so far as to state that barring it from prosecutions like these infringes upon all states’ rights to enforce their laws, which could lead to serious constitutional questions, and the Trump administration agreed: The Solicitor General, under its lead, has filed a brief siding with Kansas and arguing that federal and state law are not in conflict in the case at hand. In addition, a number of states such as Alaska, Maine, Tennessee, and others have also filed briefs siding with Kansas and arguing that the decision of the case will determine to what extent they can protect their own citizens.
What This Case Means
A win for Kansas in this case could very well open the door for other states—including North Carolina—to find new and creative ways of regulating immigration outside of what the federal government dictates. This not only includes laws and policies that are antagonistic to immigrants, but also those that are pro-immigrant and/or sanctuary.
Contact Our North Carolina Immigration and Criminal Defense Attorneys with Any Questions
If you have any questions or concerns about state criminal law or federal immigration law, contact our North Carolina criminal lawyers at the Hauter Law Firm, PC right away. We pride ourselves on being the best in North Carolina criminal and immigration law.