Monday, June 25, 2012

Immigration ruling leaves issue unsettled

It's true, as the initial news reports indicated, that the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down several provisions of the controversial Arizona immigration law. But the lynchpin of the Arizona statute — the right of state and local law enforcement to inquire into the legal status of anyone detained for a criminal offense — remains intact.

The court's decision is not a complete victory for either side. It emphasizes, as if more emphasis were needed, the utter failure of the federal government to do the thing that the Obama administration had claimed as its sole prerogative in defending the law: securing the borders and enforcing immigration policy. Federal authorities have done little to prevent illegal immigration, resulting in an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in this country. Congress has not only failed to create effective legislation to regulate immigration, its members have kowtowed to the growing illegal immigrant (mostly Latino) population. One need look no further than President Obama's politically timely executive order last week barring deportation of most illegal immigrants who came here as children.

The United States has been dancing around this issue for more than a generation. A one-time amnesty for illegals in the 1980s was supposed to solve this problem, but the problem has only grown worse, and now the lobbying is for an even broader amnesty. Those who follow the rules and try to immigrate legally are left to look like fools when the rule-breakers are allowed to shift the rules and even change the nomenclature — they're not illegal, just undocumented.

The Supreme Court's eagerly awaited decision does not settle the matter. It will take an act of Congress for that — it will require Congress to act for a change.

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