American Elephants

Supreme Court Upholds Central Provision of Arizona Law by The Elephant's Child

The Supreme Court decided the Arizona Immigration law, S.B. 1070. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. Cornell Law professor William Jacobson explained:

The court struck the provisions dealing with state criminal penalties and other provisions which imposed procedural requirements on illegals in the state. Among the provisions the court struck is the one requiring that a person be detained if the police officer believes the person is removable.

The Court upheld the central provision requiring a check of immigration status for persons otherwise detained. This was a significant slapdown for the administration. Arizona celebrated this as the key part of Arizona’s law.

The Obama administration said that it is suspending existing agreements with Arizona police over enforcement of federal immigration laws, and said it has issued a directive telling federal authorities to decline man of the calls reporting illegal immigrants that the Homeland Security Department may get from Arizona police.

So Arizona police can immediately begin calling to check immigration status — but federal officials are likely to reject most of those calls. Federal officials said they’ll still perform the checks as required by law but will respond only when someone has a felony conviction on his or her record. Otherwise ICE will just tell local police to release the person.

Arizona, along with New Mexico and Texas, has real problems with illegal immigration on the border, and with the drug wars going on just across the border. A significant border fence was promised but it is far from complete. Democrats’ election strategy always includes a special appeal to minorities, including illegal immigrants. Minorities often favor Democrats, believing all the electioneering about doing nice things for minority communities, which usually end when the election is over.

Democrats are apt to favor open borders. Republicans, portrayed by the Left as anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic in every campaign, are neither. They want laws that limit immigration, and they want the laws to be enforced. Congress largely wants to avoid the question until their side has a controlling majority. Immigration is an enormously complicated problem.

Do we honor Emma Lazarus poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty —”Give me your tired, your poor,” “huddled masses,” “wretched refuse,” and concentrate on the poor of other countries looking for a new start? Or do we look for the brilliant, the well-to-do, the well-educated, who can immediately put their considerable gifts to work? Many have called out our practice of granting advanced degrees (in technology, physics, mechanical engineering, all those  disciplines in which we claim shortages) to foreign exchange students and then send them home. Mitt Romney has suggested stapling a green card to every PhD diploma. Not a bad idea.

On the other hand, are Tucson hospitals who advertise for wealthy Mexican expectant mothers to come for a vacation, and give birth to an American citizen. Birth tourism is popular in some Asian countries as well, where wealthy mothers want to give a child the option of American citizenship, just in case. And what do we do about an immigrant’s relatives? And how far do we go beyond the nuclear family?

Do we make immigration from Europe more difficult because so many Americans are of European heritage, or easier? Do we favor certain countries, and if so why? You can see why Congress, knowing absolutely that this has to be dealt with, doesn’t want to touch it. Whatever they decide to do will be met with considerable anger and hatred and make their reelection chances even worse. Don’t expect any great rush to reform immigration.

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Good questions.

Here’s an idea to discourage birth tourism: present each mother with a mock tax bill for their infant, post dated to the year 2042. Little do these mothers know, I suspect, the long reach of the IRS. Once anybody with a U.S. passport starts earning money, no matter where in the world they live, they have to file with the IRS and pay income tax on any any income earned over the foreign-earned-income exclusion threshold.

Unless I am mistaken, the United States is the only country in the world that taxes passport holders even when they are tax resident in another country.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

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