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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court seems inclined to back at least a portion of Arizona’s xenophobic immigration law, which countenances racial profiling. Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a member of the court’s liberal wing and its first Hispanic, signaled to the Obama administration, which has opposed the law, that its arguments were “not selling very well,” according to The New York Times.

That’s too bad. Several states that rushed to copy Arizona’s terrible example, including Georgia and Alabama, need to be rescued from their bigotry. Actually, the entire nation needs a respite from the fevered anti-immigrant sentiment that has gripped some of its regions.

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, the tide of immigration from Mexico that changed the face of many U.S. cities and towns over the last 15 or so years has come to a halt — or perhaps reversed. Pew says that several factors, including the Great Recession and increased border enforcement, significantly decreased the flow of undocumented workers over the southern border.

But the mean-spirited and frequently self-defeating statutes that have flowed from GOP-dominated assemblies show no signs of abating. Legislatures keep voting to keep illegal immigrants out of college, out of decent housing and away from the economic mainstream.

In 2010, Arizona leapt to the front lines of the nation’s immigration wars with a harsh statute that, among other things, requires local police agents to check the immigration status of anyone they “suspect” is in the country illegally. That begs for the sort of profiling by surname and skin color that turns the U.S. Constitution on its head.

(Oddly, the Obama administration decided not to tackle the law on that basis, choosing instead to portray Arizona as infringing on federal turf by enacting its own immigration law. Should the high court uphold the law, opponents may still challenge it on the grounds of racial unfairness.)

But the protests, boycotts and widespread condemnation from immigration advocates that greeted Arizona’s actions did nothing to deter the nativists in other states who wanted to take the same approach. Actually, the controversy seemed to cheer some ultraconservatives, who were itching to prove they wouldn’t back down.