AZ immigration law stopped–for now.

Phoenix Immigration Rally
Image by lungstruck via Flickr

Susan Bolton made the news, whether she wanted to or not.  U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, that is.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton halted implementation of the parts of the law that require police to determine the immigration status of people they stop and think are in the country illegally. She also forbade the state from charging anyone for a new crime of failing to possess immigration documents.

I don’t know if it was the protesters bussed in from L.A. or the fact that she’s trying to up hold the law that prompted Judge Bolton to enjoin the implementation of S.R. 1070, the now famous attempt by Arizona to force the federal government to do something  about immigration concerns or take care of it themselves.

A preliminary skim of the 36 page opinion seems to indicate that the Judge is concerned that this is an area of federal jurisdiction that the state should not involve itself.  In other words, the state is interfering with federal policy by passing and implementing S.R. 1070. (It is notable that she effectively said that being in the United States itself is NOT illegal: “Unlawful presence in the United States is not a federal crime, although it may make the alien removable. See id. §§1182(a)(6)(A)(i), 1227(a)(1)(B)-(C).”  See p.5) (It is also of note that Arizona really doesn’t have a problem deporting individuals without the use of this law–they’ve already deported over 26,000 since 2007)

And yet, the law receives wide public support in Arizona:

Polls have shown that Arizonans overwhelmingly support SB 1070. That was the view expressed by Faye Yanez, 65, as she and husband were leaving a Home Depot in Tucson. Yanez said she was disappointed by the ruling.

“We feel slighted,” she said. “The state should have a right to take care of the state because the federal government isn’t doing anything.”

It’s not just Arizonans that support the law, either.  As HollyontheHill reports, CNN polls have shown that 55% of Americans support the law, too, many, I would venture, not out of enmity or resentment for immigrants, but for the lack of coherent policy by the federal government, increased costs to healthcare and social services, and the perceived increase in crime attributed to immigrants here without documentation or permission.

Needless to say, there will be an appeal:

The law’s supporters, who contended it was needed to stop illegal immigrants from coming to Arizona, vowed a swift appeal.

As much as immigration is hot in the news now, right up there with Warren Jeffs and Obama’s golf handicap or trip to the View, it’s not the first time that our country has seen a major policy discussion–and I emphasize discussion–on immigration.  For those with long memories, the Reagan era saw a similar discussion over immigration, resulting not in real reform, but in amnesty.

Yep, there’s that dirty word for conservatives in the same sentence with the modern patron saint of the conservative movement.  Proof positive that politics makes strange bedfellows, and proof certain that this is no easy issue.

What is perhaps most unfortunate is that the failure of the federal government to act in this arena has created a host of other problems.  By failing to create a quick, efficient and accessible, to say nothing of legal way for migrant workers to enter and work in the United States, especially for the seasonal employment for which many of them come, the federal government has

  • helped create a racist mentality as people question whether the Hispanic looking people are here legally,
  • increased feelings of insecurity and increased lack of faith in the  federal government,
  • the federal government has failed in its tax collecting responsibilities,
  • lost the ability to monitor non-citizens here–for dubious or honorable purposes,
  • lost the ability to control expenses as non-citizens avail themselves of government, healthcare, and educational services,
  • and so on.

It’s a morass.  And it’s time to start cleaning it up.  Not by sending everyone home, but by cleaning up the system here at home.

(Thanks to L.A. Times)
(Thanks to Holly On The Hill)
(Thanks to City Weekly)

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