Today the U.S. Supreme Court published its landmark decision in the case of Arizona v. United States. A few thoughts:
Arizona v. U.S. is a case where the United States sought to stop an Arizona state law from being put into effect, based on the contention that the law was preempted by existing federal laws. The Supreme Court agreed with the U.S. on three out of four counts, but allowed on the fourth count that Arizona law enforcement officers could ask persons for their immigration papers (aka “show me your papers”) if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is out of status. This latter allowance will almost certainly lead to racial profiling in the near term, and the Supreme Court left the door open for future challenges of the law for just that reason.
Now, in the past two weeks, we have the Supreme Court basically striking a state effort to legislate concerning immigration concerns, as well as a historic move by President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security to institutionalize the use of prosecutorial discretion in the case of qualifying youth who for have made the U.S. their home, despite their original entry without authorization.
Arizona v. U.S. and the deferred action decision have rightfully made headlines. Considered together, both underscore the failure of Congress to act on immigration in the past ten years. Comprehensive immigration reform means different things to different people, but Congress needs to take on these tough issues. The Arizona decision clearly says that immigration is a federal concern. The decision also sympathizes with the people of Arizona, acknowledging concerns. It is time for the gridlock and partisanship on immigration issues to end in Congress.
And it might. Nothing seems to motivate politicians more than political survival, and immigration reform is increasingly where many of the votes are.