Fresh off the July 4th weekend, the U.S. Justice Department dropped the hammer on the controversial Arizona law that gives police the right to detain anyone who appears to be in the country illegally.
Arizona enacted the law to plug perceived gaps in America’s broken immigration policy. Despite a secured border and stepped-up requirements for visas and citizenship, about 11 million illegal immigrants are living in the country.
As a border state, Arizona sees a large share of illegal immigrants crossing into the land of milk and honey from less fortunate points beyond.
Immigration law is federal territory, however, so when Arizona passed its own immigration policy, it crossed a big "No Tresspassing" sign put up by the U.S. Constitution.
With crime and violence spiking just within its fence, Arizona sees its law as a last line of defense against illegal immigrants, one that enforces an immigration policy that the federal government either can’t or won’t.
Critics point out that the Arizona law basically authorizes racial profiling, making life harder for Arizona’s legal immigrants while driving a wedge between police officers and the community.
In practice, the law would require any legal immigrant to carry proof of his immigration status at all times, creating something of an Orwellian state smack dab in the southwestern U.S.
President Obama has given the Arizona law the ole tsk tsk since it was passed back in April, calling the measure a “misguided” one that "threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe."
Arizona Republican Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain took up the opposing soapbox on the sticky measure, issuing a statement that said "the American people must wonder whether the Obama Administration is really committed to securing the border when it sues a state that is simply trying to protect its people by enforcing immigration law.”
In his recent speech at American University, Obama maintained that “the southern border is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years.”
Securing the border and protecting those who add to America’s immigrant legacy provides a multi-sided puzzle for every incoming adminstration. Debates on immigration have become a menudo of the U.S.’s thorniest issues, with concerns over jobs, security, education, crime, health care, and taxes stewed in the mix.
Whether Obama is able add a fix to the broken system remains to be seen, but his tough stance on Arizona’s law should win some Hispanic hearts and minds come the midterm November elections.