Friday, July 6, 2012

Immigrants -- "I'm Feelin' Blue" (1966)

It's nothing new
I'm feelin' blue

Only four months left until the 2012 elections -- the whole thing has been SOOOO much fun so far that I wish the campaign would never end!

(That's sarcasm, folks, which is often confused with irony.  It would have been irony if I had used "so" instead of "SOOOO" and hadn't inserted the exclamation mark.)

As previously promised, 2 or 3 lines will feature a post related to the upcoming election on the sixth of each month between now and Election Day, when all of us conscientious citizens will dutifully proceed to our local polling places, go into the voting booth, look at the names listed on the ballot, and be suddenly overcome by an uncontrollable desire to beat our breast, tear our hair out, gnash our teeth, rend our garments, put on sackcloth and ashes, weep, sob, keen, ululate, wail, howl, and/or sing the blues.

Today's post is inspired by the recent Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration law, which was titled Arizona et al. v. United States.   (I would put a link to the 76-page decision here, but who's kidding who -- there's not a chance you're going to read it.)  You'll no doubt be hearing about this decision and a lot more on the topic of immigration during the next four months.

In a nutshell, the Supreme Court held that a number of provisions of the Arizona law were preempted by federal law.  State laws may be preempted -- nullified, or rendered ineffective -- when they conflict with federal law.  Not surprisingly, federal law trumps state law in such cases.  But sometimes Congress "occupies the field" to such an extent that even complementary state laws -- state laws that are not in direct conflict with federal law -- will be struck down.

The Constitution specifically grants the power to regulate immigration to the federal government, and federal regulation of immigration is so extensive that the states' hands are pretty much tied when it comes to taking action against illegal aliens.  (This may seem unfair since border states like Arizona must bear the burden of crime and other problems associated with illegal immigration, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.) 

One issue in the Arizona case related to a provision in the Arizona law that essentially replicated a federal provision.  Why did the state feel the need to duplicate that federal law?  Because the federal government was not enforcing it.

Supreme Court Building
But the Supreme Court held that a state's attempt to independently prosecute violations of a federal law diminishes the federal government's control over enforcement and would "detract from the 'integrated scheme of regulation' created by Congress."

Presumably Congress passed that law intending that it be enforced.  So how can state enforcement of the provision in response to federal nonenforcement constitute a slap in the face of Congress?

This is the kind of thing that makes people have low opinions of lawyers and judges.  It seems to fly in the face of common sense.  (It makes perfect sense to me, but I'm a lawyer and have been broken of my previous habit of common-sense thinking.)  But that's what the highest court in the land has said, boys and girls -- so you'll suck on it and you'll like it, Arizona!

By the way, don't think that 2 or 3 lines is taking a position on the question of immigration.  I don't know what the answers here are.

On the one hand, nothing is more responsible for the unique character and greatness of the United States than the fact that it is a country of immigrants.  I have a feeling that most of legal or illegal immigrants in this country are just as hard-working and law-abiding (if not more so) than the native-born citizenry, and I have tremendous admiration for the courage of people who leave everything behind and move to a totally foreign place in hopes of making a better life for their families.  The fact that the United States attracts such people shows that we are doing something right.

On the other hand, we do have laws restricting and regulating immigration, and it seems like either we should enforce those laws in a fair and reasonable manner or we should cowboy up and change those laws.  Just sayin' . . .

The Immigrants were an extremely obscure garage band whose five members -- all of whom hailed from the New York City area -- met at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kansas.  In 1966, the group released its one and only album (The Immigrants '66 -- wonder where they came up with that wacky title?), which consisted mostly of covers, including "House of the Rising Sun," "She's Not There" (originally by the Zombies), "Run For Your Life" (from Rubber Soul), and Little Richard's "Keep A-Knockin' (But You Can't Come In)."

The album also included several surf-guitar instrumentals and this original song, which kind of grows on you and has nothing to do (thankfully) with the 2012 elections.

Here's "I'm Feelin' Blue":

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