As I have stated in the past, my musings in this space are often a response to what has already happened. I do, however, respond to questions from my gentle readers. One such question I recently received was: "Now that the supreme court has struck down most of Arizona's immigration law, where does that leave us?"
In answering this question, first I'd like to quote from Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion:
"The National Government has significant power to regulate immigration. With power comes responsibility, and the sound exercise of national power over immigration depends on the Nation's meeting its responsibility to base its laws on a political will informed by searching, thoughtful, rational civic discourse. Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law."
So, here is how I read the Supreme Court decision, it changes nothing. It importantly clarifies that responsibility to regulate our immigration laws resides with the federal government. This clarification is important because a number of other states have also tried to fix the problem of illegal immigration in ways that are similar to Arizona's efforts. To allow the individual states in the union to have a multiplicity of immigration laws would make no sense whatever.
This decision also points out something that has been blatantly obvious to most people for a long time, namely, that the Nation =(The Federal Government) has failed in its responsibility to exercise its powers to mend a broken system. Arizona's frustration is understandable and whatever side of the isle our elected officials sit, they are the people with whom the blame lies.
Also, Justice Kennedy's pointing to the Government's responsibility that it form laws based; "on a political will informed by searching, thoughtful, rational civic discourse" is a clear reminder to our elected officials and national commentators, of the urgent need, to return to a genuine process of consensus building legislation that is based not on the whims of looking to the next election cycle, but to the long term and common good of the Nation.
The one part of the law that survived the Supreme Court, "the show me your papers" provision, is worrisome. The question that most sensible people are asking is: how do police officers know who is here legally or not by simply looking at a person? If this is not an invitation to racial profiling, then let someone please explain that to me! Surely, we are capable of writing better laws that this.