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Topic: Arizona immigration law

Arizona Gov Declares Border Surge Victory

Most critics of the bipartisan immigration reform bill being debated in the Senate were nonplussed by the latest compromise offered by the gang of eight. The so-called “border surge” proposed by Senators Bob Corker and John Hoeven was panned by many conservative activists, writers and politicians who seemed to be looking for excuses to dismiss the massive commitment to border security as somehow not enough or not a credible plan to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. But one of the main players in the ongoing efforts by conservatives to force the federal government to act to curb illegal immigration has endorsed the measure. Yesterday on Fox News, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer endorsed the gang’s bill and declared it “a victory for Arizona.”

Brewer has been in the cross hairs of liberals like President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for her state’s attempt to cope with the flood of illegals that federal apathy had created. Indeed, the state bill she signed into law and then defended in the federal courts that sought to allow law enforcement officers to ask about a crime suspect’s immigration status made her public enemy No. 1 for the left. But while some on the right have been falling over themselves to prove to the GOP grass roots that they won’t agree to any reform of our immigration laws that allows a path to citizenship, Brewer made it clear that the bipartisan measures satisfied her well known objections to existing federal policy on illegals. It remains to be seen how much influence Brewer’s decision will have on Congress, but this is a clear blow to the campaign being waged on the right to pressure Republicans to block the immigration bill.

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Most critics of the bipartisan immigration reform bill being debated in the Senate were nonplussed by the latest compromise offered by the gang of eight. The so-called “border surge” proposed by Senators Bob Corker and John Hoeven was panned by many conservative activists, writers and politicians who seemed to be looking for excuses to dismiss the massive commitment to border security as somehow not enough or not a credible plan to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. But one of the main players in the ongoing efforts by conservatives to force the federal government to act to curb illegal immigration has endorsed the measure. Yesterday on Fox News, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer endorsed the gang’s bill and declared it “a victory for Arizona.”

Brewer has been in the cross hairs of liberals like President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for her state’s attempt to cope with the flood of illegals that federal apathy had created. Indeed, the state bill she signed into law and then defended in the federal courts that sought to allow law enforcement officers to ask about a crime suspect’s immigration status made her public enemy No. 1 for the left. But while some on the right have been falling over themselves to prove to the GOP grass roots that they won’t agree to any reform of our immigration laws that allows a path to citizenship, Brewer made it clear that the bipartisan measures satisfied her well known objections to existing federal policy on illegals. It remains to be seen how much influence Brewer’s decision will have on Congress, but this is a clear blow to the campaign being waged on the right to pressure Republicans to block the immigration bill.

Though many on the right have complained, with some justification, that the predictions of doom for the GOP if they oppose immigration reform are overstated and an effort to “intimidate” them, the real intimidation is the attempt by conservatives to buffalo House Republicans into thinking they will be defeated in primaries by the minority of the party that opposes any immigration measure, no matter how reasonable or how much it prioritizes border security.

Conservatives have come up with a variety of reasons to oppose the reform bill in the past few days. Some have put forward procedural arguments, claiming the bill is too complicated or too lengthy. That’s a fair point, though its advocates should be honest enough to admit it is more pretext than cause as Republicans never scrupled to support long, complicated bills if they approved of their purpose. But conscious of the fact that the key issue for most Americans on immigration has been border security, their most effective line of argument has been the claim that the Corker-Hoeven Amendment is either a sham or won’t actually do the job its proponents claim it can do. But Brewer, who has been on the front lines of the border battle more than any other Republican politician in recent years, gives the lie to this assertion.

Brewer has said that Congress should look carefully at the bill and try to make it better if possible. But the bottom line for her is that Congress finally seems on the brink of passing a measure that heeds the cries for help that Arizonans have made for years. It’s easy for those who aren’t dealing with the problems incurred by the porous border to be skeptical about doubling the number of border patrol personnel or finishing 700 more miles of fence, among other measures in the bill. But Brewer knows that this will make a tangible difference for a state that has borne the brunt of the federal government’s indifference and incompetence. If Jan Brewer, of all people, considers this bill a victory for those who have been pushing for the United States to assert its sovereignty over the border with Mexico, how can others credibly complain that it does nothing to alleviate the concerns of critics of the status quo?

For years, conservatives have said any plan to address immigration reform must include a serious scheme to bolster border security. The Corker-Hoeven Amendment provides just that. While the eventual fate of the bill is still very much in doubt, Brewer’s endorsement puts its opponents on notice that no one is going to buy their claims that the reason they are trying to torpedo it has anything to do with protecting America’s borders.

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A Muddle-Headed Immigration Decision

In its decision Arizona v. the United States, the Supreme Court today held that three provisions of an Arizona statute known as S. B. 1070, which was enacted in 2010 to address pressing issues related to the large number of unlawful aliens in the state, was preempted by federal law.

A fourth provision which requires officers conducting a stop, detention, or arrest to make efforts, in some circumstances, to verify a person’s immigration status with the federal government, was upheld—though the Justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenge. (“This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect,” Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.)

Overall the decision was a setback, then, though perhaps not as injurious as it could have been, since the fourth provision was upheld (albeit in a weak manner that seems to invite further challenges).

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In its decision Arizona v. the United States, the Supreme Court today held that three provisions of an Arizona statute known as S. B. 1070, which was enacted in 2010 to address pressing issues related to the large number of unlawful aliens in the state, was preempted by federal law.

A fourth provision which requires officers conducting a stop, detention, or arrest to make efforts, in some circumstances, to verify a person’s immigration status with the federal government, was upheld—though the Justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenge. (“This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect,” Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.)

Overall the decision was a setback, then, though perhaps not as injurious as it could have been, since the fourth provision was upheld (albeit in a weak manner that seems to invite further challenges).

The core of the problem with the Court’s decision is that Arizona was entitled to pass the law that it did, assuming that its provisions were not at odds with federal law. Clearly they were not, which is why the decision is fundamentally flawed and poorly reasoned.

As Justice Scalia writes in his dissent, “The laws under challenge here do not extend or revise federal immigration restrictions, but merely enforce those restrictions more effectively. If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State.”

One cannot help but assume that for some on the left, that would be perfectly fine.

In any event, Justice Scalia went on to make this observation:

It has become clear that federal enforcement priorities—in the sense of priorities based on the need to allocate “scarce enforcement resources”—is not the problem here. After this case was argued and while it was under consideration, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced a program exempting from immigration enforcement some 1.4 million illegal immigrants under the age of 30. If an individual unlawfully present in the United States

“• came to the United States under the age of sixteen;

“• has continuously resided in the United States for at least five years . . . ,

“• is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran . . . ,

“• has not been convicted of a [serious crime]; and

“• is not above the age of thirty,”

then U. S. immigration officials have been directed to “defe[r] action” against such individual “for a period of two years, subject to renewal.” The husbanding of scarce enforcement resources can hardly be the justification for this, since the considerable administrative cost of conducting as many as 1.4 million background checks, and ruling on the biennial requests for dispensation that the nonenforcement program envisions, will necessarily be deducted from immigration enforcement. 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 does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind. [highlights in original]

Indeed it does. We can only hope the majority’s muddle-headed thinking—in which a state that enforces laws the president refuses to is deemed to be acting in a manner that is not only inappropriate but unconstitutional—was confined to this case and doesn’t extend to the Supreme Court’s ruling later this week on the Affordable Care Act.

Arizona v. the United States was a bad decision by the highest court in the land.

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Arizona’s Partial Victory is Trap for Obama

After the Arizona legislature passed a bill seeking to force the federal government to enforce immigration laws, the state was subjected to an avalanche of criticism lambasting it for legislation that was characterized as racist. But now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the key element of the law was constitutional, the state’s critics, including the president of the United States, have found themselves on the losing side of the argument. Though most of the law, which trespassed on an issue that is a federal responsibility was overturned, the High Court unanimously ruled that the most controversial part of the measure — the requirement that law enforcement officials check the immigration status of anyone they arrest or stop for questioning — was constitutional. Though that issue will be sent back to the appeals level to allow for further challenges, much-maligned Arizonans can view themselves as largely vindicated, at least for the moment.

But now that the Court has ruled, this decision, like the long-awaited ruling on ObamaCare which will be handed down on Thursday, may become fodder for Democratic strategists who hope to enhance the president’s chances of re-election by making the conservative majority on the Court a campaign issue. Because so much effort has already been expended by the liberal mainstream media in demonizing the Arizona law for what was widely characterized as a form of discrimination, this may well play into Democratic talking points aimed at Hispanic voters. But however much this may help the president with some Hispanics, any effort to make the plight of illegal immigrants a central part of the president’s election narrative runs the risk of alienating the majority of Americans who sympathized with the Arizona law.

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After the Arizona legislature passed a bill seeking to force the federal government to enforce immigration laws, the state was subjected to an avalanche of criticism lambasting it for legislation that was characterized as racist. But now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the key element of the law was constitutional, the state’s critics, including the president of the United States, have found themselves on the losing side of the argument. Though most of the law, which trespassed on an issue that is a federal responsibility was overturned, the High Court unanimously ruled that the most controversial part of the measure — the requirement that law enforcement officials check the immigration status of anyone they arrest or stop for questioning — was constitutional. Though that issue will be sent back to the appeals level to allow for further challenges, much-maligned Arizonans can view themselves as largely vindicated, at least for the moment.

But now that the Court has ruled, this decision, like the long-awaited ruling on ObamaCare which will be handed down on Thursday, may become fodder for Democratic strategists who hope to enhance the president’s chances of re-election by making the conservative majority on the Court a campaign issue. Because so much effort has already been expended by the liberal mainstream media in demonizing the Arizona law for what was widely characterized as a form of discrimination, this may well play into Democratic talking points aimed at Hispanic voters. But however much this may help the president with some Hispanics, any effort to make the plight of illegal immigrants a central part of the president’s election narrative runs the risk of alienating the majority of Americans who sympathized with the Arizona law.

Some liberals are declaring the Court ruling a victory because much of it was tossed out. But for most of those who cared about this issue, the “check your papers” measure was the key to the controversy, and its survival must be considered a limited victory for Arizona. It is possible, as liberals are hoping, that even that point will be eventually ruled unconstitutional if it can be proved that it is enforced on a racial or ethnic basis. But it’s worth remembering that the Solicitor General who argued the administration’s case for throwing out the entire law flopped because even liberal justices agreed that his position was, as Chief Justice Roberts pointed out, “that the federal government just doesn’t want to know who is here illegally or not.”

As much as his tougher line on illegals is one that will cost Mitt Romney Hispanic votes in November, taking a position that the government should not enforce existing immigration laws and offering amnesty to large numbers of undocumented aliens will hurt the president with the rest of the country. As David Paul Kuhn pointed out in an insightful analysis on RealClearPolitics.com, the president’s growing problem with voters who are neither African-American nor Hispanic is a far greater obstacle to victory than Romney’s problems with Hispanics. Though non-whites are an increasingly larger percentage of the electorate, as Kuhn writes, Obama is currently getting a smaller share of the white vote than any Democrat since Walter Mondale and far less than the 43 percent he got in 2008.

The Court’s ruling may turn out to be a trap for the president if he continues to focus on the rights of illegals not to be asked about their status. The Democratic obsession with winning the Hispanic vote could come at a very high price. Though Obama’s position denouncing all of the Arizona law was applauded in the media, this is not a winner with those non-minorities Obama is losing to Romney.

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SCOTUS Hands Victory to Supporters of Citizens United

The biggest news out of the Supreme Court today is its decision on the Arizona immigration law, but it also handed a victory to supporters of Citizens United by knocking down a Montana law banning in-state corporate political spending. WSJ reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a summary reversal of the Montana Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a state law that prohibited corporate spending in state elections. The U.S. Court said the question in this case was whether the Citizens United decision, which established that corporate spending in elections is permitted as a matter of free speech, applied to the Montana state law. “There can be no serious doubt that it does,” the Court wrote.

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The biggest news out of the Supreme Court today is its decision on the Arizona immigration law, but it also handed a victory to supporters of Citizens United by knocking down a Montana law banning in-state corporate political spending. WSJ reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a summary reversal of the Montana Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a state law that prohibited corporate spending in state elections. The U.S. Court said the question in this case was whether the Citizens United decision, which established that corporate spending in elections is permitted as a matter of free speech, applied to the Montana state law. “There can be no serious doubt that it does,” the Court wrote.

The 5-4 decision — which broke across the same lines as the Citizens United decision — was a reaffirmation that free speech rights of corporations extend to state and local elections. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a long-time champion of this issue, released a statement praising the verdict:

“In another important victory for freedom of speech, the Supreme Court has reversed the Montana Supreme Court, upholding First Amendment free speech rights that were set out in Citizens United. As I pointed out in an amicus brief that I filed in the Montana case, a review of Federal Election Commission records of independent spending supporting the eight Republican presidential candidates earlier this year showed only minimal corporate involvement in the 2012 election cycle. Not one Fortune 100 company contributed a cent to any of the eight Republican Super PACs, as of the end of March, according to FEC records. The records also showed that of the $96 million contributed to the eight Super PACs through March 31, an overwhelming 86.32 percent of that money came from individuals while only 13.68 percent came from corporations and 0.81 percent from public companies. Clearly, the much predicted corporate tsunami that critics of Citizens United warned about simply did not occur.”

The decision is likely to prompt more cries from the left that the Supreme Court is far-right and illegitimate. While it’s a setback for the anti-Citizens United crowd, the decision wasn’t unexpected, and it’s not going to stop the liberal clamor to repeal protections on corporate speech.

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Arizona Immigration Law: Verrilli Strikes Out Again With SCOTUS

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. may have been outclassed when he went up against Paul D. Clement arguing the case to uphold the constitutionality of ObamaCare before the Supreme Court of the United States. But today, when the pair once again matched up in the same forum when the high court met to hear arguments about the state of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, it appears that the result was no different. As the New York Times reports, even the liberal justices inclined to be on the same side of the administration, which wants the law struck down, gave the impression that they thought the solicitor general was something of a flop.

While Verrilli’s second humiliation — even Justice Sonia Sotomayor was so unimpressed with his presentation that she felt the need to tell him,  “You can see it’s not selling very well” — was noteworthy, even more important was the fact that it appeared that the key provision of the Arizona law would not only be upheld but that most of the justices — even the liberals — seemed to agree that there was nothing unreasonable about it. Given the opprobrium that the mainstream media has heaped on Arizona and the way that most of the chattering classes had spoken of the law and its supporters as racists, the reaction of the court must be a shock to the administration and to its liberal supporters.

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Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. may have been outclassed when he went up against Paul D. Clement arguing the case to uphold the constitutionality of ObamaCare before the Supreme Court of the United States. But today, when the pair once again matched up in the same forum when the high court met to hear arguments about the state of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, it appears that the result was no different. As the New York Times reports, even the liberal justices inclined to be on the same side of the administration, which wants the law struck down, gave the impression that they thought the solicitor general was something of a flop.

While Verrilli’s second humiliation — even Justice Sonia Sotomayor was so unimpressed with his presentation that she felt the need to tell him,  “You can see it’s not selling very well” — was noteworthy, even more important was the fact that it appeared that the key provision of the Arizona law would not only be upheld but that most of the justices — even the liberals — seemed to agree that there was nothing unreasonable about it. Given the opprobrium that the mainstream media has heaped on Arizona and the way that most of the chattering classes had spoken of the law and its supporters as racists, the reaction of the court must be a shock to the administration and to its liberal supporters.

At the heart of the debate is the question of whether Arizona was within its rights when it mandated that law enforcement officials must seek to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop if there is reason to believe the individual is not legally in this country. Though other parts of the law — including provisions that treat illegals working or to failing to register with federal authorities as crimes — might not be upheld, the inability of Verrilli to assert that inquiring about the immigration status of a person already detained was a form of racial profiling was a glaring weakness in the government’s case.

Though the Arizona law was condemned by the president and overruled by a federal appeals court, the justices seemed to agree that states were entitled to pass laws that require local officials to make mandatory inquiries to federal authorities. Moreover, it is clear that such provisions are actually quite common. All of which means the effort to demonize the Arizonans and their effort to, as Clement put it, deal with a crisis not of their own making, was deeply unfair.

What’s more, the arguments also seemed to bring out the strange inconsistency in the administration’s case. While claiming only the federal government had the right to pass laws that deal with immigration, they seemed to extend that unexceptionable principle to demanding that local authorities ignore the situation entirely. As Chief Justice John Roberts said, “It seems to me that the federal government just doesn’t want to know who is here illegally or not.” Even as hardcore a liberal as Justice Stephen Breyer said he would vote in favor of the constitutionality of this point in the law so long as it was proven that the process of checking immigration status would not result in “detention for a significantly longer time” than might happen in any other circumstance.

One needn’t necessarily agree with those who promulgated the law about the impact of illegals to understand that there is nothing wrong with the state trying to determine if someone already in custody is an undocumented alien. If the court rules (as seems likely) to uphold the provision — and does so with a comfortable majority that includes liberals as well as conservatives — then President Obama and a long list of other liberals who have vilified Arizona will owe the state, its governor, legislature and citizens a big apology.

As for Solicitor General Verrilli, he may have made himself the poster child for the Obama administration’s utter incompetence. As the Times notes:

At one point Justice Sotomayor, addressing Mr. Verrilli by his title, said: “General, I’m terribly confused by your answer. O.K.? And I don’t know that you’re focusing in on what I believe my colleagues are trying to get to.”

President Obama’s positions on his health care law and the Arizona immigration law were weak to start with. But with a champion as hapless as Verrilli, the government’s already weak position was made even more vulnerable.

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