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SCOTUS employer sanctions ruling could be watershed for illegal immigration debate

Quick thoughts on today’s ruling:

Finally, a common-sense decision that will give states the power to truly do something about illegal immigration.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this morning that upholds Arizona’s employer sanctions law could prove to be a watershed moment in the illegal immigration debate.

All the hand-wringing and hair-wrenching about illegal immigration has focused almost entirely on one half of the problem – people crossing the American border illegally or residing in the country illegally having overstayed their visas.

The other half that’s been mostly ignored has been the American business owners employing illegal immigrants. They are as at fault as those who crossed the border because it’s their jobs that are the magnet that draws them across.

Border enforcement has proven to be a farce. We have 20,000 Border Patrol agents running around the desert like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the Roadrunner to roughly the same effect – the Roadrunner always gets away (OK, mostly gets away).

But if all those border crossers couldn’t get jobs, they’d have to think long and hard about whether that arduous journey was worth it. If all of those who currently have jobs in America couldn’t keep them because they don’t have the proof they’re here legally, they’d have to decide whether it was better to be homeless and miserable here or homeless and miserable in their own country.

And for the hundreds of thousands of children who were brought here by their parents at a young age who are Americans in spirit if not in documentation, who have no home country to go to, it will force this country to look long and hard at itself and decide whether we are a compassionate, reasonable people who stand for justice or whether we’re the hard-hearted bastards the nativists and racists want us to be.

This ruling also will force the conservative Arizona Legislature to decide if it truly wants to do something about illegal immigration or if just wants to say it does so conservatives can get elected.

The employer sanctions law had a glaring hole in it when passed four years ago – there was no money behind it.

The law required county attorney’s to enforce it but gave them no money to do so. As a result, no county attorneys enforced it. Crazy Andrew Thomas in Maricopa County made a big show about enforcing it, but in the year it was enforced before it was enjoined by the court, he only used it to bust two businesses for violating the law.

It’s time the legislature put its money where its mouth is and fully fund enforcement of employer sanctions.

This law is far better than SB 1070 because it doesn’t discriminate – employers and all employees have to prove they’re citizens legally entitled to work in the country. SB 1070 was selective in who had to produce their papers and therefore its enforcement couldn’t help but be discriminatory.

The SCOTUS may have just given everyone a way out of this mess. Here’s hoping all those who have demagogued (to make up a verb) this issue knock it off and finally put the onus on enforcement where it always should have been – on Americans employing illegal immigrants.

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