Printz Doctrine Could Stop Donald Trump’s Wall

trump wall

Donald Trump’s immigration policy intends to stop illegal immigration. “We’re going to build a wall, and we’re going to stop it. It’s going to end,” said Trump, “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.”

Although Trump has a lofty goal of stopping illegal immigration, the Printz doctrine a.k.a anti-commandeering doctrine outlined in Printiz v. USA could get in the way. Basically, this doctrine states that the federal government cannot make state officers enforce federal laws. In this case, SCOTUS said a state sheriff was not required to do a gun background check under the federal gun registry law. This doctrine allows for state actors to not enforce federal law.

While the doctrine was originally used by conservative states against a liberal federal government, the anti-commandeering doctrine can be used visa versa. Now, liberal states can use this doctrine to not enforce Trump immigration laws. Ironically, a doctrine once used to support a state’s second amendment right to guns can now be used to not build walls.

Under the Printz doctrine reasoning, there seems to be some unintended consequences. An obvious consequence of the doctrine would be states not building Trump’s wall. Another consequence would be states continuing to enforce the H-1B programs. Indeed, if elected, Trump cannot force states or state actors to enforce his federal immigration policies.

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