Generally, the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s draconian “show me your papers, brown people” law—otherwise known as SB 1070—has led to confusion. They kind of said, “No, you can’t arrest undocumented people just because they have a tail light out,” yet the Tucson police department still expects the law to cause an additional 50,000 calls to federal immigration authorities, who will most of the time not respond and therefore leave the follow-up to local cops.
By overturning the most preposterous portions of the law, the Court will likely slow the rapid accumulation of xenophobic state laws meant to make life as horrible as possible for non-citizens. Everywhere from Alabama to Indiana has passed laws similar to Arizona’s. Immigrant-hostile groups were probably expecting the reactionary Roberts Court to side with them, but they probably misunderstood the Roberts conservatives, who are not Tea drinkers so much as pro-business, free market acolytes, and business—from the slaugher-houses to the construction industry to strawberry growers—very much enjoys having cheap, un-unionizable labor that works without complaint due to fear of being washed homeward in an immigration sweep.
Where immigration policy goes from here is anyone’s guess. The only true viable policy solution remains the vague bi-partisan approach once championed by congressional Democrats, George W. Bush and John McCain before becoming the de facto position of the Obama administration. White, right-wing backlash led the Republicans to drop the issue entirely and offer pathetic bromides about “border enforcement” (the joke being that the Obama administration has had the most aggressive—some might say, “ruthless” or “immoral”—enforcement policy of the last two decades).
Along came nominee Mitt Romney, who after beaming Rick Perry in the primaries over immigration, could not have come up with a more useless, vague, uncertain, “moderate” policy approach that he “outlined” (“smog-lined”? “fog-lined”? “haze-lined”? I’m looking for the right description) in a speech meant for the 134 undecided Hispanics left in the country who are not aware that the Republican Party uses them to score race-baiting points in every primary in the nation.
The president can fiddle around the edges, such as stopping deportations of young people who are in the U.S. through no fault of their own. Maybe congress can even muster enough votes to drastically increase the number of working visas for highly skilled immigrants (this is a policy that’s so “no shit” and enjoys such widespread support, you’re left to wonder why it hasn’t happened yet). However, any serious overhaul of immigration policy is going to require sixty votes in the Senate and a serious depletion of Tea Party congressman in the House—two things that right now seem about as likely as a Medal of Freedom for Jerry Sandusky.
Personally, I just throw up my hands whenever this issue even comes up. It’s like all the morons railing against undocumented immigrants, are totally unaware that they themselves the descendents of Irish, Italian, German, Austrian, and Whatever Else You Got immigrants, who came here and faced the exact same kind of discrimination and xenophobia. Amazingly, they don’t understand that this is a historical process that has happened before and will happen again.
I guess that’s the American story, though: come over and work the skin from your hands so that two generations later, your off-spring can behave like entitled dickwads who were somehow here first.