Debate continues across the country on what the United States should do with illegal immigrants.
Some local governments have declared themselves “sanctuary cities”, telling local law enforcement not to cooperate with federal officials to enforce laws.
They can do this thanks to legal precedents originating before the Civil War.
The legal precedents when federal officials ordered local governments to enforce the “Fugitive Slave Act”, and hand over escaped slaves to their masters.
“Those prosecutions were unsuccessful. It was determined that if the federal government was going to pass that law — they had to enforce it. They couldn’t take state judges, and state law enforcement, and make them do the work under a federal law,” said Chris Regan, Bordas & Bordas PLLC Attorney.
Regan added the Supreme Court used this legal principle to declare unconstitutional certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act.