Minority of One blog

Arizona and the new immigration reality

Supporters of Arizona's "show your papers" immigration law take comfort that the Supreme Court upheld the part allowing police to check the immigration status of people they lawfully stop. The Federation for American Immigration Reform called the decision "an important victory" for those "who want their jobs, tax dollars and security protected from mass illegal immigration." But since the police can't charge or hold illegal immigrants indefinitely, it may not have much effect.

In any case, it's clear the law has not brought about the major shift in immigration policy that FAIR and other advocates hoped. The legislator who sponsored the bill was voted out of office. Only a handful of other states have followed Arizona's example. This decision undoubtedly will hinder their efforts and discourage other states.

The anti-immigration crowd might have taken strong hope from Mitt Romney's victory in the Republican presidential race, since he opposed the Dream Act and vowed to promote "self-deportation" by illegals. But now that he's up against a president who is vocally in favor of a more generous approach to undocumented foreigners, Romney has changed his tone, and he's so far been on the fence about the Supreme Court decision.

The political reality is that the presidential candidates need Hispanic voters more than they need immigration hard-liners. And that will become even more true in the coming years.

CHICAGO

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