By the time you read this, nine Americans may well have declared the United States a nonentity.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court was supposed to decide on the constitutionality of Arizona’s SB 1070, the now-famous law that sought to stem the tide of illegal immigration into the state.  The Obama administration struck quickly after the law passed, declaring legal war.  But Arizona, groaning under the weight of 400,000 illegals, had started something.  Several states passed laws.  And the more states that followed Arizona, the greater the radical left’s rage, and the more lawsuits the administration filed to bring these recalcitrant children of the federal government to heel.

Obama v. Arizona is among the most important cases the Court has ever considered.  Already, the courts and the federal government have clapped handcuffs on state and local officials when it comes to dealing with criminals who break state laws.  If the Supreme Court rules against them on this, they won’t be allowed even a measure of control over those inside their borders who aren’t supposed to be there.  What a long way we’ve come from the scene in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, which depicted California border-patrol agents closely questioning Okies who were attempting to enter the state and find work.  And they were Americans.

So, as this story goes to press, the states await a decision from the nine robed solons sitting in judgment at 1 First St., N.E., Washington, D.C.

The immigration insurrection began on April 23, 2010.  That was the day Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, she of the famous finger-wag, signed SB 1070.  The key provision in the law requires state and local police to check the immigration status of any person with whom they come into contact in the course of enforcing the law if they suspect the person of being in the country illegally.

Immediately, the shrieking began.  Arizona, the radical left averred, is a land of racists and bigots.  President Obama agreed.  Appearing at a press conference with the president of Mexico, he denounced the state.  The administration complained to the United Nations.  Dozens of countries filed court briefs, adding their claims to those of the crackpots from the Southern Poverty Law Center and other “antiracism” groups.

And the courts agreed.  The U.S. District Court in Arizona blocked parts of the law from taking effect.  The leftist Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision.  One member of the panel, Judge John T. Noonan, explained the import of Arizona’s law: “For those sympathetic to immigrants to the United States, it is a challenge and a chilling foretaste of what other states might attempt.”  In other words, Noonan knew what might happen if the law were upheld: Other states might get the wrong idea.  Federal immigration laws might be enforced.

So the state awaits a decision from The Nine.

Five other states—Utah, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama—passed laws similar to Arizona’s.  Judges put cases on hold in anticipation of the Court’s ruling in April.

The argument for these laws is, in some sense, self-evident.  The federal government has abdicated its responsibility to control the borders, and states have a right to protect themselves from the illegal-alien invasion as a matter of practicality and of law.  The Obama administration’s argument against these laws includes the irrelevant claim that they will invite racial profiling because cops would, naturally enough, look more closely at Hispanics.  The vast majority of illegal immigrants, after all, are Mexicans.  The argument assumes that racial profiling is a moral abomination and that police would be stupid enough, in this litigious age, to railroad innocent Arizonans of Mexican extraction.  Another of the Obama administration’s objections is that such laws interfere with the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, because the countries that dump their immigrants on us illegally will be angry at us for returning them.  Acceding to that argument, one judge rightly observed, would give foreign countries a “heckler’s veto” over American law.

The administration’s third and most credible argument is that states have overstepped their authority because the enforcement of immigration law is the sole prerogative of the federal government.  Judge Carlos Bea shot that one down in a dissent from his colleagues on the Ninth Circuit when they blocked Arizona’s law: “Congress has clearly expressed its intention that state officials should assist federal officials in checking the immigration status of aliens and in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States. . . . Congress has clearly stated its intention to have state and local agents assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law, at least as to the identification of illegal aliens, in two federal code sections.”

The import of the Supreme Court’s decision can barely be overstated, given how illegal immigration affects the states.  “Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level,” the Federation for American Immigration Reform reported in 2010.  “The bulk of the costs—some $84 billion—are absorbed by state and local governments.”

The cost of illegal aliens to Arizona is $2.6 billion per year.  Georgia spends $2.4 billion on illegals.  Illegals cost Alabama nearly $300 million, and South Carolina nearly $400 million.  Utah and Indiana have it even worse, at $453 million and $608 million, respectively.  In other words, of the $84 billion the states spend collectively on illegal aliens, these states account for about $6.8 billion—roughly eight percent of the total.  If the Court sides with the Obama regime, the states will have no way to stanch this hemorrhage of money.

Ultimately, the argument of the administration and its leftist spear carriers, along with the open-borders crowd on the “right,” is this: It doesn’t matter who is in the country, and states have no power to decide who resides within their borders.  Anyone can be an American.  This last idea works only to the benefit of the political and corporate elites who seek to exploit illegal aliens for their votes and cheap labor.  If anyone can be an American, being an American doesn’t mean anything.

Those political elites, who include Democrats and Republicans of every stripe, are electing a new people.  If the Supreme Court backs the Obama administration and restricts the states from protecting their safety and treasuries by helping to control illegal immigration, the Court would not only surrender control of federal and state budgets to Mexico but finish erasing what little remains of the borders of the United States. 

And then the left will finally have achieved its goal.  The American nation will cease to exist.