By striking down many components of the Arizona immigration law that sought to deter illegal immigration, while leaving in place the controversial provision requiring that authorities check the immigration status of anyone they detain who’s reasonably suspected of being in the United States illegally – the Court ruling has effectively mobilized both supporters and opponents of the Arizona law — further polarizing the electorate on the issue of immigration.
With both sides declaring victory following the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law –– it appears unlikely that either Obama or Romney will articulate a clear policy on immigration or immigration reform in the near future.
Indeed, both candidates and their campaigns appear all too content to play politics with the issue of immigration rather than engage in any sort of serious debate.
Put simply, as both campaigns continue to fight for the Hispanic vote, neither presidential candidate is approaching the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law and its implications in a way that facilitates governance or policy development.
President Obama did not hesitate to embrace the ruling as a victory, while maintaining his concern about the provision that “requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally.”
President Obama’s remarks were aimed largely at positioning himself as the champion of Hispanic voters — a politically motivated move aimed largely at mobilizing Hispanic voters whose enthusiasm for voting in the election could be critical to Obama’s re-election chances particularly in key swing states in the southwest.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney described the ruling as being reflective of President Obama’s failure to “work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy,” in a written statement on Monday, that focused on the president’s own struggles to curb illegal immigration.
Rather than addressing the components of the law that were thrown out or, alternatively, upheld by the court, Romney focused on the implications for Arizona and other states’ ability to take on immigration enforcement themselves, stating: “I believe that each state has the duty — and the right — to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities.”
Both candidates’ statements were emblematic of the divisive and polarizing nature of the 2012 presidential campaign. And while they may have achieved the desired objective in the short term, what was left unstated is that neither President Obama nor Governor Romney has articulated a clear policy on immigration or offered any permanent legislative solutions for immigration reform.
What remains all too clear is that rather than engage in any sort of serious debate on the issue of immigration and immigration reform on the campaign trail, both campaigns can be expected to continue to play politics with the issue of immigration for the remainder of the 2012 presidential campaign — pursuing a strategy of partisan rancor and division that has failed to unify us that has become emblematic in an election campaign season that has divided us more than any in recent history.