NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 4, 2010

Little noticed, last Friday the Obama administration yet again tried to make it easier for illegal aliens to stay in the United States, says economist and author John R. Lott, Jr.  In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, the administration asked the court to carve out a special exemption for businesses that break the law by hiring illegal aliens. 

In every state, individuals must have a business license to do a huge range of jobs, be it a restaurant, stores, salvage, selling cars, cleaning people's houses, pest control or other businesses.  But people must get a criminal background check to get a license.  Different states vary in terms of what crimes can disqualify one from getting a license -- some including misdemeanors not covered in other states.  Similarly, if you commit a crime, your business license is very likely to be revoked; the same is true for professional licenses for lawyers, doctors or even barbers.  

The logic for these rules is pretty strong.  If someone commits a crime, states have decided those people can't be trusted in dealing with consumers, explains Lott. 

  • Both state and federal crimes are included in these criminal background checks, and it has always been up to the states to determine what crimes will bar people from being licensed.
  • This is what the Obama administration now wants to change.
  • The Obama administration wants crimes involving immigration violations specifically excluded from their licensing decisions. 

Part of the Obama administration's motivation for this Supreme Court appeal is to create a legal precedent that only the federal government can deal with immigration issues.  They aim to use such a precedent to strike down the new Arizona immigration law signed this year that allows local and state police to enforce federal immigration law, says Lott. 

Asking courts to rewrite laws doesn't show much respect for the rule of law.  But maybe, despite massive Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, the Obama administration knows that it doesn't have the votes to pass such radical reform, says Lott. 

Source: John R. Lott, Jr., "Illegal Alien Legal Challenge,", June 3, 2010. 

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