The Arizona Immigration Ruling Is Bad From A Policy Standpoint…

…because as Ben Shapiro at Breitbart notes, essentially it says that if the federal government has taken over a section of law and then refused to enforced that section of law, there’s nothing anybody can do about it.

Finally, the ruling itself is legally incorrect. It essentially states that if the federal government passes a law, then refuses to enforce it, states must sit on their hands and allow the federal government to continue its malfeasance. This is a particularly egregious ruling in light of the fact that the Obama administration has already demonstrated its willingness to avoid enforcement of the law when it comes to illegal immigration. Meanwhile, Arizona is expected to pick up the cost of illegal immigrations, since the feds won’t.

The decision is a disaster on all sides. Justice Scalia got it exactly right: “[T]o say, as the Court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the President declines to enforce boggles the mind.” Conservatives declaring it a victory – or even a partial victory – are missing the larger point here. Obama won. Arizona lost. So did the American people.

Shapiro and Scalia are correct on policy. On law, though, they’re wrong.

If immigration is a federal issue and not a state issue, which it seems it ought to be since immigration and border control policy have to do with foreign policy and different states having differing practices where that policy is concerned make for a mess, then Scalia’s mind might just have to be boggled.

We say this all the time, but…elections have consequences. If you elect a president who refuses to enforce either the border or immigration laws, and he’s the responsible party where those are concerned, then you’re going to have problems. And while it’s an uncommonly damaging bit of policy to abandon a core governmental responsibility, the fact is there’s no way around that problem other than to fix it with someone who will do his job.



If you believe that immigration and border control are federal issues, and if you think about it you’ll have to agree that they are, you’ll struggle with the idea that a state can – uninvited – jump in and attempt to fix them. The feds can more or less deputize the states to help enforce the federal law – but if the feds don’t like what the states are doing on an issue within the federal purview the states have to back off.

And the bad policy consequences of that merely show how important it is to get people who will do their jobs in federal office.

So get rid of Obama and demand his successor enforce federal law on immigration and border control if you want this fixed.

There is some good news coming out of the Arizona immigration decision, though – and it’s not the fact that the Supremes ruled Arizona has the right to ask for proof someone their law enforcement officers stop is here legally. That’s nice, but if all Arizona can do to someone whose only real crime seems to be that they’re illegal is to call Immigration & Customs Enforcement there isn’t really a way forward; ICE can just say they’re not going to take those illegals into custody and then Arizona is stuck with them out on the streets.

No, the good news is that since this ruling pulls the states and local governments completely out of a policymaking role on immigration, it means that “sanctuary cities” are gone pecans. If states and local governments are not capable of Arizona-type legislation due to the federal government having pre-empted their ability to run illegals off, they’re also pre-empted from passing laws that give preference to illegals through “sanctuary city” legislation. And that’s a good thing.

So it’s a mixed bag.

But while it’s entirely reasonable that Arizona would have passed SB 1070 in an attempt to shield itself from the negative consequences of the feds’ poor performance on immigration and border security, at the end of the day that can’t be fixed outside of the federal government.

Which will drive Shapiro nuts, Scalia nuts and us nuts.

At the end of the day, there isn’t much we can do about it on the state level, though. Just like the feds have largely destroyed the offshore oil business by interrupting the permitting process in the Gulf – yeah, the rig count is back to what it was prior to the Deepwater Horizon spill, but the year and a half the offshore people lost still hasn’t been made up and the costs to drill are worse than they’re ever been – and there was nothing we could do about it in Louisiana. That’s how it works when something is federal in nature and the feds have bad policies or poor performance.

We’ll just have to fix it in November.

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