Again, the results of public opinion polls are clear. Americans are frustrated with the nation's high unemployment rate. Mostly low-paying jobs that a few years ago they were content to leave to illegal residents and others, they now feel possessive of.
Think of the construction industry. When the economy was robust for so long, there appeared to be a belief across the country that denying these low-paying jobs to illegals might put a brake on the good times by unnecessarily driving up labor costs. Such reasoning was a poorly hidden justification for "compromise" legislation that winked at illegal immigration.
Now many local governments are fighting for revenue. Voters have little interest in supporting a workforce of illegal immigrants. And for many, there is no gray area or willingness to consider exceptions such as the one I noted above.
Politicians take note: Tea party fervor could have a synergistic effect with anti-immigration sentiment in stoking a huge voter turnout this year, both in contested primaries -- especially Republican ones -- and in November.
Immigration debate also provides context to otherwise anecdotal events. The Web is rife with outraged discussion about the high school students in California who were sent home for wearing clothes decorated with American flags on Cinco de Mayo.
Now throw in the boycotts of Arizona by various governments and organizations. Many Americans are not only annoyed, but also puzzled, by these actions. To them, the Arizona law is common sense. Now illegal immigration may move from being just another news story to a dominant political theme. America's mood in this election year is getting surly. We shall see.