No one can serve two masters.
The biblical insight should be kept in mind as we continue on our merry little journey down the rabbit hole of treating disagreements between states such as California and the federal government as if they are spats between sovereign nations in which one of them acts as if they are being occupied.
Federal law requires employers, once they are given what are called notices of inspection by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, within three days to produce documents demonstrating their workers meet eligibility requirements to be able to work in the United States.
California on the apparent premise the constitution granted states control over what is clearly a federal issue in terms of who can enter the country and what they can do here, passed a new state law to prohibit employees from providing federal agents with such information unless they are armed with a warrant or a subpoena. If employers fail to follow the law it’s up to a $10,000 fine.
That runs contrary to federal law. One must assume someone in the California Legislature knows what an I-9 form for employment eligibility verification is and the various forms of documentation they must secure and have on file before they can hire someone. Federal law requires the I-9 and copies of supporting documents to be shown any time federal immigration or labor officials request to see them. Failure to do so can trigger penalties between $110 and $1,100 per occurrence.
It is akin to Congress passing a law saying California employers can’t submit to Cal OSHA workplace unless state representatives have a warrant or a subpoena.
This puts employers and farmers in the middle. Who is their master — Uncle Sam or Uncle Jerry — when it comes to immigration law compliance?
It’s nice to justify this under the banner of immigration justice. It tells the self-righteous their fight is pure despite it clearly undermining federal law. Seeing state governments pushing boundaries in such a manner is a dangerous game of the ends justifying the means.
Where does it stop? Heaven forbid we have another war where the draft is needed to fill service ranks. If the majority of the California Legislature is against the war can they forbid any state resident from cooperating with the Selective Service under threat of financial penalty?
You could argue the tiff over undocumented immigration is no different than recreational marijuana where many states are at odds with the federal government.
But there is a difference. Marijuana laws can be argued as a legitimate states’ rights issue. The securing of our borders and our common defense are federal concerns.
Anyone who thinks that how we are going about the debate on what is kosher and what isn’t on immigration whether it’s legal or not is good for the country needs to dial back the self-righteousness.
There’s a fine line between resistance and revolution when you take a wholesale approach to defying laws no matter how unjust you may think they are.
It’s delusional to even think it is wise for a state to have an immigration policy that is independent or contrary to that of the federal government. The logical progression takes us from one nation to 50 nations.
State and federal governments have been at odds over issues plenty of times in the past 242 years. Except for the issue of slavery and civil rights enforcement few disputes have rarely pitted state and federal authority against each other to the point they promote anarchy. And while one might frame the question of non-citizens being in this country without permission violating the laws of a sovereign nation the same as states standing up for those forced to be here as slaves or who are legal citizens being treated as second class citizens, it is not the same. The California law clearly undermines a federal statute that at the end of the day is aimed at policing our common borders and upholding the sovereignty of our nation.
So do California businesses and farmers side with Sacramento or Washington, D.C., in complying with the law? As things stand now they will suffer repercussions regardless of what they do.
Sacramento has managed to make any farmer or business that complies with a lawful federal government order a criminal.
How this gives Sacramento a moral high ground is perplexing. They talk about protecting undocumented people that are not citizens of this country yet they have no problem at putting law abiding citizens at risk. Essentially they are creating government power to punish Californians that dare comply with federal law.
The state providing health care, issuing driver’s licenses, and even educating undocumented immigrants is in a different category as they are not openly defying federal statutes. The state law takes direct and precise aim at federal law.
Now that California politicians have called the federal government’s bluff by essentially standing in the college doorway as Alabama politicians did 55 years ago in open defiance of federal statutes, the federal government must respond.
If not the union of 50 states will start deteriorating into tribal law where reds and blues — and perhaps some other political color combination — will do what Confederate guns could not accomplish.