Posted on November 29, 2011

Reid Bill Might Block State Immigration Laws

Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, November 28, 2011

Democrats in Congress have proposed a new racial profiling ban that could thwart state and local laws on immigration enforcement, such as the controversial Arizona law currently tied up in federal court, by withholding federal funding for state and local law enforcement agencies engaged in “racial profiling” and empowering the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file lawsuits against state and local governments.

Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and lead sponsor Ben Cardin, D-Md., are pushing the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011, which would, among other things, “withhold federal law enforcement funding if local and state governments failed to adopt effective policies that prohibit racial profiling” and “require the Attorney General to report on ongoing discriminatory profiling practices.” Those reports could provide the basis for federal lawsuits against the state or local entities, filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) or by individuals who believe they have been racially profiled.


The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which promotes more illegal immigration enforcement and lower levels of legal immigration, warned that the bill, if implemented, could interdict state and local efforts to enforce illegal immigration laws. “This could be used as a club to beat [states with illegal immigration laws] into submission,” said FAIR spokesman Ira Mehlman, although he noted that the language “doesn’t guarantee that it would be used in this way.”

Reid’s spokesman described the Arizona law last year as “legalization of racial profiling.” Reid has also said he supports the DOJ lawsuit against Arizona regarding SB 1070.

This law updates the 2003 DOJ guidelines against racial profiling to reflect concerns about immigration offenses. For the first time, it would apply to state and local officials, which the current DOJ guidelines do not (although the 14th Amendment does). {snip}