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Supreme Court give states a green light to follow Arizona's lead on immigration

In all the analysis of whether Arizona or Pres. Obama came out on top in the Supreme Court’s ruling on S.B. 1070 today, the key question is: how well did unemployed Americans fare?

And the answer is: Very well.

Combined with another Court ruling on an Arizona law last year, states now have all the legal room they need to pursue attrition-through-enforcement measures that cause illegal aliens to depart from a state, opening up jobs for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants.

Although headlines have focused on the court knocking down three of four provisions before it, it should be noted that S.B. 1070 began with 14 sections.  After all the challenges at several court levels, 11 of those sections are still standing – and the court today ruled against only half of the twelfth.  The one that was cleared today by the Court was the right of police to question people about their immigration status.  This may be the most important provision in causing illegal aliens to leave Arizona, judging by the frenzy of concerned reaction by the pro-amnesty forces and the Obama administration.

We have always regarded S.B. 1070 as supplementary to the far more important, earlier Arizona bill that requires every employer to use E-Verify to keep illegal aliens and tourists from taking jobs. The Obama administration also opposed this effort, but the Court last year entirely upheld the right of states to protect its workers in that way.

Combining the two rulings, Arizona now has the Supreme Court-approved model to show all other states that they don’t have to sit idly by while an estimated 7 million illegal aliens take U.S. jobs in construction, manufacturing, service, transportation and even some in the professions. These are the occupations  where most of the 20 million Americans who are unemployed or forced into part-time work are also seeking a job.

Since 1986, the prevailing theory about illegal immigration in Washington has been one of inevitability – that nothing can be done to cause illegal aliens to leave once they get into the country.  Hence, Congress passed seven amnesties between 1986 and 2000.  

Now, Arizona – and presumably a number of other states – can be full-effort laboratories to prove inevitability a false theory.  

We are heartened that even in writing the majority opinion that blocked three parts of Arizona’s law, Justice Kennedy recognized that decisions by three straight presidents to significantly ignore federal immigration law have put states in a bind.

“The pervasiveness of federal regulation does not diminish the importance of immigration policy to the States,” he wrote.  “Arizona bears many of the consequences of unlawful immigration. . . . Statistics alone do not capture the full extent of Arizona’s concerns.  Accounts in the record suggest there is an ‘epidemic of crime, safety risks, serious property damage, and environmental problems’ associated with the influx of illegal migration across private land near the Mexican border.”

In his dissent, Justice Scalia was much more specific, citing the Obama administration’s announcement just two weeks ago that it would refuse to enforce the law against illegal aliens who would benefit from the DREAM Act amnesty that Congress has rejected three times.

“After this case was argued and while it was under consideration,” Scalia wrote, “the Secretary of Homeland Security announced a program exempting from immigration enforcement some 1.4 million illegal immigrants under the age of 30.

“The president said at a news conference that the new program is ‘the right thing to do” in light of Congress’s failure to pass the Administration’s proposed revision of the Immigration Act.  Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so.  But to say, as the Court (majority) does, that Arizona contradicts federal by enforcing application of the Immigration Act that the President declines to enforce boggles the mind.”

As if to underscore Scalia’s assessment of the current administration as a nullifier of congressionally-passed laws, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano only hours after the ruling, announced that she would suspend yet another enforcement required under federal immigration laws.  Because the Court ruling will result in a lot more illegal aliens being brought to the attention of the feds, she said, her department will suspend the 287(g) program in Arizona, and pledged that nothing in the ruling will interfere with the administrative amnesty announced last week.

Fortunately, all states now have a bright green light from the Court to follow Arizona’s lead in enforcing the laws in the way that Congress intended, even if the president insists on violating those laws.

Roy Beck is president of NumbersUSA, a grassroots immigration-reduction organization with more than a million members.

Roy Beck, a former journalist and author of public policy books, is president of the non-partisan NumbersUSA Education Research Foundation, founded in 1996 to promote the recommendations of the Barbara Jordan Commission.