The Stir Over SB 1070

Cable news would have us believe that the political chasm in America is unbridgeable. The Republicans cite the Constitution as if it were a break-up letter from the Democrats who just do not understand what breaking-up means. Democrats devote most of their time trying to be anything but elitists.

People most likely to feel the presence of government (in their lives) are least likely to stay silent. A WASP getting an egregious salary a few years after he graduates from college is not likely to be a political activist.But a veteran and a religious attendee of every gun show in his town who likes to have supper and watch Fox News concurrently is the demographic profile of the disturbingly motivated political activists.And the one thing that really makes political activists lose their cool is how “unfair” something (or everything) is.

So it was unlikely that any one would ask why we are so angry with people who mow our lawns and pick our fruits.One among the many offensive things in my preceding sentence is that immigrants do not just mow our lawns or maintain our way of life: they improve it as well. A study conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy shows that immigrants play a role in more than three out of four patents at the nation’s top research universities.

If only acquiring patents were the sole criterion for people to immigrate to the United States, we’d all be a much happier nation. Historically, families have come to this country (legally or illegally) to expect a reasonably happier life than they had. And what makes a political activist unhappy is not that illegal immigrants are happy, it’s that somehow they are doing something fundamentally unfair to the rest of Americans.

Arizona’s immigration bill, Senate Bill 1070, is an effort to curb that unfairness. Consider the fact that the bill is also called Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act – the word “immigration” doesn’t appear in the title.From the name alone, one might surmise that illegal immigrants break laws and make neighborhoods unsafe. Whether Arizona can do anything about it without violating the constitution is the current issue of the Supreme Court case Arizona v. United States.

It is worth noting that S.B. 1070 has not yet been implemented. The Justice Department jumped the gun by challenging its constitutionality. “The trouble with this premature, facial challenge is that it affords Arizona no opportunity to implement its law in a way that would avoid any potential conflicts with federal law,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The Supreme Court declared that the “show me your papers” provision is constitutional, for now. The provision permits law-enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they stop, detain, or arrest. However, any suspicion that an officer may have must be “reasonable.” For instance, jaywalking does not constitute reasonable suspicion for an immigration statues check. But the Court struck out Arizona’s authority to call federal immigration violation a state crime.

The Supreme Court, despite its streak of conservative activism, is the most credible branch of government. So it’s not surprising that the decision was split, no victors declared,at least not by the Court.But after reading the actual Arizona v. United States opinion, one cannot help but be envious of the simple narrative Fox News presented: a defeat of President Obama.

Letting Fox News anchors present the narrative is so appealing because they make it easy for audiences to just agree or disagree.Politicians also do our thinking for us. Either curb illegal immigration or let the country be run amok. No middle ground, no options.So unlike real life for most people on cable news, there is no split decision.