State Republican House Leaders Support Colleagues in Arizona on Immigration Law

SD State Rep. Bob Faehn (R-Watertown)

Thursday, August 5, 2010
CONTACT: Lucas Lentsch, 605-224-7347

PIERRE – Several Republican Leaders of the South Dakota House of Representatives expressed their support today for the position taken by their legislative colleagues in Arizona on illegal immigration. Arizona recently passed legislation that authorizes state law enforcement officers to inquire into the citizenship status of individuals when there has been lawful contact by law enforcement. The Justice Department filed suit to prevent enforcement of the Arizona law. Several states, including South Dakota, filed amicus briefs in support of Arizona in the federal action. A federal district court judge recently issued an opinion preventing enactment of some of the more controversial portions of the law. The State of Arizona has appealed the injunction ruling.

“This is yet another example of the federal government trying to encroach upon the rights of the states”, stated House Majority Leader Bob Faehn R-Watertown. “We have seen this time and time again out of the Obama administration and it has grown tiresome. I am glad our Governor and Attorney General have joined in the fight on this one.” Faehn said.

Speaker of the House Tim Rave, R-Baltic, and Majority Whip David Lust, R-Rapid City, also expressed their support for Arizona’s position and noted that most if not all of the Republican members of the South Dakota House of Representatives feel the same way. “I have spoken to many members of the House Republican Caucus who have expressed their frustration with the federal government when it comes to states’ rights,” noted Rave. “It seems odd that the federal government would take umbrage at Arizona passing a law that merely allows law enforcement to inquire about the citizenship of individuals when they have made lawful contact. I just don’t get it.”

“It is my understanding that federal and state law enforcement customarily work together on immigration law enforcement, not unlike how state and local law enforcement often approach drug cases. It seems as though the Obama administration, by opposing this law, is working to undermine that traditional, cooperative relationship.” Lust said. “Clearly, the federal government has not been enforcing immigration laws aggressively and now apparently they do not want states to do it either.”

These leaders also noted that further legislation in South Dakota may not be necessary at this time since the issue is currently being litigated. “Our current laws on immigration appear to be working,” Lust indicated. “However, we may need to more clearly delineate the duties and responsibilities of state law enforcement on immigration issues once the Arizona case has completed its trek through the courts,” he said.

All three legislators expressed their support for Arizona legislators as they try to address what is a daunting problem in their state. “I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be for elected state officials in Arizona. Illegal immigration is a huge problem and when they try to address it they get sued by the federal government.” Faehn said. “This lawsuit sets a bad precedent for other states that want to address problems they face without relying on the federal government.”

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