Just how little does Justice Scalia know about immigration policy?

"One of the reasons that Washington’s approach to immigration—unlike Arizona’s—is so complicated is that federal policymakers need to take account of geopolitical considerations when deciding which undocumented immigrants to target for deportation. Donald Verrilli, Obama’s solicitor general, said as much, arguing that a maximal approach to immigration enforcement could create problems for U.S. relations with Mexico. “So we have to enforce our laws in a manner that will please Mexico?!” Scalia protested. But that’s a rather unfair way of describing Washington’s decision-making process on immigration. Of course geopolitical considerations are—and should be—taken into account when the federal government makes immigration policy. "

- Nathan Pippenger, Scalia Reveals How Little He Knows About Immigration Policy

Photo courtesy of The New Yorker

First immigration, now health care: Did the federal government screw up its arguments before the Supreme Court again?

"In fact, however, as he did in the health care case, Verrilli again failed to make the most convincing constitutional argument in support of his position. The argument that the government should have offered in the immigration case closely resembles the one it failed to offer in the health care case. In the immigration case, the argument goes something like this: The Framers of the Constitution intended to transfer power over foreign relations from the individual states to the federal government. The federal government uses its immigration powers—including the power to welcome, expel, detain, and place conditions on aliens—as an instrument of foreign policy. State laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 undermine the uniformity of federal foreign relations policy and can harm relations with foreign countries by inviting retaliation against U.S. citizens abroad.”

- Jeffrey Rosen, First Health Care, Now Immigration: How the Government Fumbled Its Latest Supreme Court Case

Photo courtesy of MSNBC

How far can Romney pivot on immigration?

"Of all the issues on which Mitt Romney will be tempted to execute an “Etch-a-Sketch” moment as he heads into the general election, immigration is the most pressing. Remember, on immigration Romney didn’t just rely on his super PAC to slur his opponents; he identified himself robustly with the nativist strain in the GOP. This worked out fine in the primaries: It helped him snuff the existential threat of Rick Perry’s candidacy, and provided additional fodder for his team’s crucial attack on Newt Gingrich after the South Carolina primary. The general election, though, is a different proposition. With the Hispanic community an increasingly large part of the electorate, Romney will need to campaign for at least some part of the Hispanic vote, and his rhetoric in the past few months doesn’t leave him with many options to do so.”

- Ed Kilgore, How Far Can Romney Pivot on Immigration?

Photo courtesy of csmonitor

Arizona has a cruel immigration law, but will the Supreme Court uphold it?

"A ruling in favor of Arizona would have cultural and social consequences as well, say opponents: It would essentially bless racial- and ethnic-profiling, and create profound inconsistencies in policies between different states. “On an important issue like immigration, where we’re supposed to speak with one voice, you’ll have a cacophony of voices,” Chishti warns. The split between welcoming and unwelcoming states could become even starker. Besides the states whose existing laws will likely move forward, the list of additional imitators, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progressas well as my reporting, could eventually include Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.”

- Nathan Pippenger, Next at the Supreme Court: A Deeply Cruel Policy Comes Before the Justices

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Can Obama count on winning support from Hispanic voters despite his failure to deliver on immigration reform?

"It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the current anti-immigrant tilt of the Republican Party, especially as displayed in the primaries, has decisively turned off Hispanic voters and thrown them into the arms of the Democrats. And the likely nominee, Mitt Romney, who is typically viewed as a moderate compared to the others vying for the GOP nomination, will have difficulty reversing this judgment."

-Ruy Teixeira, “Why Obama’s Re-Election Hinges On the Hispanic Vote

Photo courtesy of Independent Voters Network

Mitt Romney’s new Spanish-language ad is replete with feel-good stock footage and is devoid of any mention of his stance on immigration.

"Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, looks into the camera and says: 'Romney cree en nosotros' (Romney believes in us). When the whole thing is over, the viewer is supposed to feel warm and fuzzy about Mitt—but instead, I was left asking: What about immigration?”

- Nathan Pippenger, “Why Romney’s First Spanish-Language Ad Won’t Make a Difference

Is Romney really so deluded as to believe he can get the support of Hispanic voters by using the term “illegals” in debates and vowing to veto the DREAM Act?

What were 2011’s most overlooked stories?

"War is over. No, really. ‘Permanent’ bases? Absolutely not. A decades-long partnership between Iraq and the United States? With the American officials who guide the fortunes of the world’s lone superpower and who, doing violence to their word, ordered the last of U.S. forces out of Iraq without condition and regardless of consequence? Doubtful. An “over-the-horizon” residual force in the event of catastrophe? Not really, given that catastrophe approaches more likely than not."

- Lawrence Kaplan on America’s silent withdrawal from Iraq, one of TNR’s most overlooked stories of 2011.

For more overlooked stories this year click here.

Be sure to continue reading The New Republic for the best political commentary in 2012. Happy New Year!

Photo courtesy of Army Times.

There are those who claim our borders are not secure. Do they know immigration-related arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border have reached the lowest level since the 1970s?



Immigration arrests skyrocketed between 2005 and 2009, increasing at an average rate of 23% a year.

 In 2009, 84,749 people were arrested and charged with immigration offenses, up from 38,041 in 2005, the [the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics] announced yesterday.

 With 46 percent of all arrests, illegal immigration was the most common offense for an arrest in 2009, followed by drug violations, accounting for 17 percent, and supervision violations, with 13 percent.

The big question here: Does this increase in arrests correlate with the recent news that immigration-related arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border have reached the lowest level since the 1970s?

Also, read TNR’s Nathan Pippenger on, “Why Fewer Arrests Mean Better Border Enforcement.”