Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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."
This 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.
I 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 illiberal nations.
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.
Personally, I 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.
Because 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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Any place in the world and any person from those places; any person with the desire to tear up their roots, to strive for freedom, to attempt and dare to live in a strange and foreign place, to travel halfway across the world was welcome here."

-- Ronald Reagan, June, 1952, commencement address at Williams Woods College.

(Of the 'Shining City on the Hill') "In my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and heart to get here."

-- Ronald Reagan, January, 1989, farewell address.

It is unfortunate these sentiments are not more broadly shared today.