The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona's tough immigration law was largely a victory for the federal government's status quo of pro-amnesty, lax immigration enforcement. But it was not a total disaster.
The divided court struck down three provisions of the law:
• It said police may not arrest illegal aliens without a warrant based simply on there being probable cause to believe that they committed an offense that would lead to their deportation.
• It said Arizona may not make it a state crime for illegal aliens to seek or perform work.
• And it said Arizona may not make it unlawful for illegal aliens not to carry registration papers and other government identification.
But the court upheld arguably the most hotly contested provision. The justices said in their 5-3 ruling that Arizona can allow police to verify the immigration status of people whom they have lawfully stopped for other reasons.
While the striking down of the other provisions dilutes somewhat the effectiveness of the one that was allowed to stand, that provision nonetheless holds the worthwhile promise of making illegal aliens aware that their unlawful presence will be on law enforcement's radar if they are caught committing additional illegal acts once they are in this country. That alone could make them think twice about taking up residence in Arizona.
And as for making it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek or perform work, that is not necessarily vital anyway. If laws forbidding the knowing hiring of illegal aliens are enforced, it will not matter if they seek work because they won't get it. And in consequence, many of them will go home.
Laws with similar provisions have been enacted in Georgia, Alabama and several other states, and they face legal challenges as well.
That is unfortunate.
But it is no more unfortunate than the fact that the states have had to act in sheer frustration as the Obama administration has ignored real immigration enforcement.
The most obvious recent example of that is Obama's granting of amnesty to around 1 million illegal aliens and his offer to let them apply for work permits. Can anyone truly believe the president doesn't ultimately desire the legalization of most of the remaining 10 million to 19 million illegal aliens in the United States as well?
In case the president hadn't noticed, unemployment in America is still above 8 percent, and it defies all reason to suggest that millions of illegal aliens are not taking jobs from U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants. They are also suppressing wages for lawful workers.
The court's ruling is slightly encouraging but mostly disappointing. Still, the bigger issue is what the next Congress will do about immigration -- and who will be in the White House either to sign or veto those measures.