(WSAU) When you get a split decision from a divided Supreme Court, there’s going to be a lot of debate over which side “won”. In truth, a ruling like that gives supporters and opponents just enough to hang their hats on.
Here’s my take: Arizona lost.
The part of the law that the court let stand, that police can ask for proof of citizenship upon reasonable suspicion, is useless without the parts of the law that were struck down. The court ruled that states can no longer punish people for being in the country illegally – that’s a federal crime, not a state crime. All the state can do is hold illegals, notify the feds, and wait for Immigration and Naturalization Services to pick ‘em up.
But the federal government has already announced what its policy is: no deportation for non-violent illegals; possible work permits for illegals who were brought to this country as children by their parents. If Arizona wants to enforce its law all it’s doing is taking part in a statewide federal ‘catch and release’ program. And the suspects would sit in local or country jails – at local expense – until the Feds come to pick them up. Homeland security director Janet Napolitano has already said that her department won’t take those calls. Her department announced within a few hours of the ruling that all existing agreements between the feds and Arizona law enforcement concerning illegal immigrants are immediately suspended.
Local police in Arizona will now have an incentive not to enforce their law. If you wind up catching an illegal, say, during a traffic stop, they’ll sit in the county jail for a long, long time on the local taxpayer’s dime. As a matter of economics, sheriffs deputies will practice ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ If you ask, your already limited jail space is going to have a very expensive long-term occupant.
Whether you agree or disagree with the court ruling, it’s clear that federal enforcement of immigration laws is lax and inconsistent. The Court acknowledges the truism that states can’t enact their own patchwork of laws for illegals. State law or the courts are not the remedy for the problems at the boarder. This is a policy issue straight from the White House. People who support the current policy, or what to see the situation change, will have to express themselves at the ballot box in November.
Operations Manager,Midwest Communications-Wausau