Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has laid down a few hard rules about what states can and can't do to deal with the wave of illegal immigrants within their borders. But the issue remains murkier than ever because Congress can't agree on needed reforms.

If the high court's ruling Monday on Arizona's stringent immigration law tells us anything about this messy issue, it underscores the need for a set of new federal rules. We need a fail- safe system to deal with the more than eleven million illegals who live here, one that helps, not hurts, our economy and fosters stronger economic growth.

No one, however, expects Congress to address this issue in an election year. It remains a political football that President Obama has aggressively played to the hilt in a narrowly-focused campaign aimed at appealing to special interest groups to distract attention from his failures on the economy and jobs.

Illegal immigration remains a top political issue among Hispanics and Latinos, but it's not the dominant issue it once was in years past among the broader electorate.

In March, the Gallup Poll presented a list of 15 issues to Americans in a nationwide survey, asking them "if you personally worry about this problem a great deal, a fair amount, only a little, or not at all?"

The economy was at the top of their concerns, with 71 percent saying "a great deal" and 22 percent saying a "fair amount." Then came gas prices, federal spending, deficits and debt, health care, and unemployment, followed by other issues ranging from Social Security to terrorism.

Illegal immigration was second from the bottom. Only 34 percent said they worried about it "a great deal"; 23 percent said "a fair amount"; and 41 percent said "little or not at all."

All of this speaks volumes about how disconnected Obama is from the overriding concerns of the American people.

The vast majority of voters are deeply worried about a slowing economy that's drifting toward a recession, federal spending and trillion dollar budget deficits, and jobs.

But in the fourth year of his presidency, Barack Obama is suddenly focused on how he can win the Hispanic vote by halting deportations of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants between the ages of 16 and 30.

Meantime, the Supreme Court has settled a few issues that will affect states that have passed immigration laws similar to Arizona's.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.