Linda Greenhouse, former Supreme Court reporter for the Times, got soppy in defense of Arizona's illegal immigrants in "The Lower Floor" her latest biweekly column posted Wednesday evening. Apparently Supreme Court justices were remiss last week when they focused on arguing the law, as opposed to reciting Robert Frost and giving in to sympathetic anecdotes about "the simply humanity" of illegals (or, in Greenhouse's politically correct terminology, "undocumented residents").
(Greenhouse has famously argued that Supreme Court's Obama-care opponents have no case, even after Obama-care was annihilated in oral argument before the justices.)
I found last week’s Supreme Court argument in the Arizona immigration case utterly depressing, and I’ve spent the intervening week puzzling over my reaction. It’s not simply that the federal government seems poised to lose: unlike the appeals court, the justices appear likely to find the heart of Arizona’s mean-spirited “attrition through enforcement” statute, S.B. 1070, permissible under federal law.
Poring over the argument transcript and the briefs, what finally came through as most deeply troubling was this: the failure of any participant in the argument, justice or advocate for either side, to affirm the simple humanity of Arizona’s several hundred thousand undocumented residents.
Both facts and logic tell us that this is a varied population. Different reasons, different routes and different times brought these individuals to Arizona. Half the adults among them hold jobs. Many are parents of American-born citizens of the United States. An untold number, while not possessing the right papers, are also not now deportable under our byzantine immigration laws. But whoever they are and whatever their stories, all are now likely to become what Arizona intended them to be when it enacted the law two years ago: hunted.
To her dismay, she found the federal policy on deporting illegals almost as harsh as Arizona's, neither of whom have apparently read the poetry of Robert Frost.
....The federal government’s brief offered a startling description of what the government was doing on the Arizona-Mexico border in the spring of 2010, when the Arizona Legislature passed S.B. 1070: 4,000 Border Patrol agents stationed there, a 40 percent increase since 2005; 40 aircraft on patrol; 305.7 miles of border fence completed.
The description was aimed at showing that the Feds were on the case and that Arizona’s law was simply superfluous. Perhaps so, but I read this account as the chilling self-description of a powerful nation obsessed with imaginary enemies. “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out,” Robert Frost wrote. We have walled ourselves in, whether by Arizona’s hand or Washington’s or both. The Supreme Court will tell us if the difference matters. I had thought it did, but by the end of last week’s argument, I was no longer sure.