In the wake of Arizona’s immigration law that was passed recently by the state legislature and signed by the governor, pundits are discussing what the federal government should do in response. I’m unsure of what the government should do, since there is an obvious solution that both political parties hate. Instead, I’m gonna talk about what the federal government is likely to do this year, namely nothing.

What is the solution that both parties hate? There is an element that must be in any legislation in order to restrain illegal immigration. This action is to enact and enforce criminalization against employers who employ them. This would include substantial fines against the wealthy who have illegals (see the Dred Scott case in Wikipedia) employed in their household as ‘nannies’ which elites from both parties reject since this affects their friends. The idela legislation would also, though, actually put employers in prison who hire a large number of illegal immigrants. Republican politicians abhor the idea of going after businesses in this manner; they counter that for this to be effective legislation, all people must have some type of identification card that would permit firms to make reasonable judgments about the people whom are hired. Democrats detest this.

Even given the problematic nature of the issue, we might expect Congress to take action in response to the Arizona law. But here, once again, we find a confluence of interests that make it very unlikely that the federal government will act this year. The Republicans know that they can’t go on the record as favoring what happened in Arizona. There are more Latinos in the country than African-Americans. Every congressional election, a higher percentage of them are registered to vote than in the previous cycle. The GOP knows what happened in California; Pete Wilson killed the party for fifteen years and counting. Democrats, though, know the dirty little secret of American politics. In midterm elections, there are only two groups that vote, codgers and party activists. Old people, generally, strongly oppose any legislation that, to their eyes, is not punitive against illegal immigrants. This age group is already in the Republican corner in 2010. The Democrats are intent on mitigating this effect; therefore, I think that any legislation this year is unlikely.

So, instead, nothing will happen this year. Individuals from both parties will make symbolic type of speeches to drive their political interests. Then, with reduced majorities (and perhaps minorities) next year, nothing substantive will happen in the foreseeable future.