I offer the following observations on yesterday's Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration law.
First, it tells us nothing about the pending ObamaCare decision on the individual mandate. The
question if the Affordable Care Act cases has to do with Congressional
authority. There was no doubt that Congress could legislate in the area
of immigration and naturalization. The question in the Arizona case was
the impact of what Congressional legislation on supplementary (or
conflicting) state legislation.
Second, one can't ascribe victory to either Arizona or the Obama administration.
The administration lost quite a few of its challenges to the law in
lower courts and these issues were not addressed by the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, the provision of the law that was not stricken by the
Supreme Court yesterday may well have to substantially narrowed by
state and lower courts to ultimately survive.
Finally, the controversy reflects the incoherence of our immigration debate.
The left tends to frame the debate about unlawful entry into the
country in racial terms. If you want to do anything to stem the flow of
foreign nationals across the border or place restrictions on those who
have illegally entered or remained in the country, you are "racist."
is nonsense on stilts. A sovereign nation has the right to control its
borders and it is hardly racist to worry that a large influx of low
income and low skilled workers will stress social programs and place
downward pressure on wages. People who turn opposition to unfettered immigration into a racial issue are not serious people.
appreciate the insights of some of my libertarian friends on the value
of a more lassiez faire approach to immigration but such an approach is
not politically feasible and does not adequately consider the impact of
On the other hand, conservatives on the
issue (and this is not synonymous with Republicans who hold a variety of
positions on immigration) see it as a matter or law and order. If you
are not here illegally, you ought to go back. But that is not realistic. We
don't have the capacity to accomplish that and, even if we did, there
would be countless stories of sympathetic individuals and families who
the majority of us don't want to send back.
think the way out of this mess is for the left to stop playing the race
card and recognize that the borders have to be secured. Conservatives
have to concede that millions of people who have been working and paying
taxes and having children aren't going to be sent back.
neither side trusts the other, a compromise must involve addressing the
legitimate concern immediately. A "path to citizenship", for example,
must be combined with immediate and vigorous enforcement.
Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin.