In an article in today’s Washington Examiner, senior political analyst Michael Barone argues that Monday’s Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. United States paves the way for the U.S. to implement sensible reform of our immigration laws, and he certainly got it right.
Barone begins by arguing that while the Administration and others have been quick to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn three of the Arizona state law’s provisions—those that sought to regulate alien registration, illegal aliens seeking employment, and arrest of individuals based upon possible removability—the more significant part of the decision lies in what the court chose to uphold.
In a unanimous 8–0 ruling, the Supreme Court found that Arizona’s law enforcement should be able to check the immigration status of any person stopped or detained for other reasons given reasonable suspicion to believe that the individual is illegally present in the U.S. Indeed, this decision represented a major victory, as states should not have to beg the federal government for permission to enforce laws within their borders.
Taking the argument further, Barone also points out that what is unjust is not that the Arizona law will require legal immigrants to carry papers—after all, this has long been on the books as federal law—but rather that certain groups continue to argue that enforcing federal immigration law is oppressive and unjust.
Certainly the Obama Administration’s continued move to pick and choose what immigration laws it will enforce through “prosecutorial discretion” only serves to strengthen this misguided argument. The fact is that the federal government has every right to enact laws determining who can and cannot enter the country, but with that right, of course, comes the responsibility to actually enforce them.
The good news, Barone writes, is that the U.S. is in a much better position than in years passed to control our borders and thwart illegal immigration. This is due not only due to the increase of manpower and technology along the border but also laws like Arizona’s that provide for greater workplace enforcement (employment being a major driver of illegal immigration).
But the Administration must actually act. Focusing detention and deportations only on “criminal aliens” is not nearly enough. As the “broken windows theory” of law enforcement explains, by enforcing “petty” laws, police can help create a “well-ordered” environment that discourages more serious crime.
In other words, in order for the Administration to create a “well-ordered” immigration enforcement environment, it should not only focus on the removal of criminal aliens but also rebuild respect for the rule of law regarding immigration and workplace enforcement.
At the same time, achieving “sensible reform of our immigration laws” requires that other key reforms be put in place. These include rejecting amnesty, continuing to strengthen operational control along the borders, and reinvigorating interior enforcement activities. It also means taking steps to reform and streamline the legal immigration process.
As Barone points out with regard to high-skilled immigration, “we’re shutting the door on math and science Ph.D.s, even as Canada and Australia are welcoming them in.”
Barone got it right when he said that the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling to immigration status checks by Arizona law enforcement “opens the way for sensible reform of our immigration laws.” Now it’s time for Congress and the Administration to act.