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Special Report

Hume: 'Paradoxical outcome' for Arizona immigration law

The Supreme Court's immigration ruling today is a paradoxical outcome.

The portion of the Arizona law requiring immigration checks on suspects stopped by local and state authorities for other reasons was upheld. This, of course, was the part of the law that caused all the controversy and nearly all the talk, and was thus, the only part of the law that most Americans had ever heard of. So Arizona Governor Brewer is claiming victory. But the ruling was otherwise a sweeping affirmation of the federal government's sole dominion over the nation's immigration policy and the enforcement of its immigration laws.

Arizona and some other states had taken the view that they could pass immigration laws of their own so long as they were -- quote -- "mirror images" of federal law. Such laws would allow state authorities to enforce federal immigration laws even, indeed especially, where the feds for whatever reason, chose not to.

That idea is now out the window. All that's left is a limited authority to ask people about their immigration status. If they have no papers -- and state laws requiring people to have such papers are now also out the window -- there is little local authorities can do. They can ask the feds to step in, but the Department of Homeland Security let it be known today it is suspending its program of letting Arizona cops help enforce the law. Governor Brewer would seem to need another word for this outcome because victory doesn't work.