On the Radar: An Octopus, the Constitution and the Immigration Issue

July 9, 2010

This was supposed to be a post about the latest chapter in the immigration saga, but I got sidetracked by an octopus. I might have a college degree, but I also have the attention span of five-year-old in an aquarium. Here’s what’s on my radar:

  1. Paul, the prophetic octopus. Yes, you read that correctly. So far, this German cephalopod has a perfect 6-0 record for correctly picking winners in this year’s World Cup match-ups. Two boxes containing food are placed in front of Paul, each labeled with the flags of the opposing teams. Whichever country’s flag is on the box that Paul takes food out of is deemed his “pick” for the match. (Sidenote: I think Paul would be a huge hit for reality dating shows, don’t you? “Did Paul pick out a true love for Andy? Tune in to see how his date went with Brenda!”)
  2. Want to live in Chicago? Want to own a handgun? Well, now you can do both! The decades-long ban was finally overturned late June, but is coupled with stricter gun control ordinances. Nevertheless, conservative talk show hosts heap praise for upholding the Constitution. That Second Amendment sure is a feisty one.
  3. Arizona’s immigration dance party with Senate Bill 1070 and the proposed “anchor babies” bill. We’ll talk about SB1070 in a minute, but let’s first just point out that the Constitution definitely says that any person born in the United States is a citizen. Suddenly, those talk show hosts aren’t quite so excited about the Constitution -- everyone knows that it’s outdated and doesn’t pertain to modern-day situations. That Fourteenth Amendment sure is a party pooper.

But the main development is that the federal government is crashing Arizona’s immigration shindig by suing the state. The federal government said the law, which is scheduled to take effect on July 29, is unconstitutional because immigration falls under federal jurisdiction, not the states’. In a New York Times article, the Justice Department called Arizona’s approach “misguided,” and argues that “the law would divert federal and local law enforcement officers by making them focus on people who may not have committed crimes, and by causing the ‘detention and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants and citizens.’”

Arizona governor Jan Brewer insists that the law is constitutional, and aims to complement, not supplant, federal regulations. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Arizona, called the lawsuit a “sideshow,” saying that it does not move the country closer to securing borders or fixing the broken immigration system.

President Obama addressed immigration reform in his July 1 speech at American University. He warned that rounding up and deporting all undocumented persons would be logistically impossible, but, at the same time, acknowledged that the solution is not to provide blanket amnesty. The president didn’t offer much by way of solutions, only that the immigration system needed a complete overhaul.

Obama’s speech drew complaints from both sides of the party lines for taking an elusive middle ground. It’s unclear if a bipartisan cooperation will ever materialize, but at least the issue has become a priority in national conversation. As much as I don’t like SB1070, you can’t deny that it played a major role in bringing attention to the issue.

What do you guys think of these latest developments? Do you think Arizona’s immigration law is constitutional, or do you think the federal government is right to sue the state? Was SB1070 a cry for help?

Also, what provisions do you think should be considered for immigration reform? So far, the solutions being thrown around run the gamut from deportation to work visas to amnesty. Will our legislators ever make a decision?

I know a certain oracular octopus that might be able to help.


Also check out:

CNN, What’s behind Obama’s immigration reform push?