Once again, the federal government -- which has been negligent in its duty to enforce immigration law -- is suing a state that has been left with little choice but to enact its own law to fight illegal immigration.
The U.S. Department of Justice had already filed suit against anti-illegal immigration measures in Alabama, Arizona and South Carolina. And now it is seeking to have a federal court dismantle a recently enacted law in Utah.
The law requires that people arrested in Utah for serious crimes -- from certain drug offenses all the way up to murder -- verify their U.S. citizenship. In addition, police have discretion to verify the citizenship of people who are stopped for traffic violations.
The reason why Utah and other states have begun taking action is clear: Illegal immigration imposes massive costs on the states and on our nation as a whole.
Economist Peter Schulkin reviewed IRS data and found that illegal aliens are receiving a huge net cash benefit from the IRS compared with what they pay in federal income taxes. From 2005 to 2010, that windfall came to $7.3 billion.
And that is in addition to the high costs that states shoulder to give medical care and other benefits to people who are in this country unlawfully.
In this weak economy in particular, states simply do not have the money to shower those benefits on illegal aliens.
And they shouldn't have to do so.
It is past time for the Obama administration to cease its attempts to circumvent Congress by providing a back-door amnesty for illegal aliens. It should enforce our immigration laws vigorously.
But in the absence of that necessary enforcement, states are well justified in seeking ways to keep their taxpayers' dollars from flowing to illegal immigrants.