The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Legislation in 2011

The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Legislation in 2011 | By A. Elena Lacayo | National Council of La Raza

On April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1070, the nation’s most punitive immigration legislation, placing anti-immigrant initiatives into the national spotlight alongside herself and the bill’s sponsor, Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce. The legislation was widely condemned by the country’s leading civil rights organizations for essentially codifying and legitimizing racial profiling. However, in spite of the damage that Arizona has suffered in terms of its weakened national image, lost business and tourism revenue, and legal fees related to SB 1070, the legislators and private interest groups that helped pass this law announced their intent to pass similar laws in other states.

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Since passage of SB 1070, legislators in 36 states have attempted to advance similar measures. To date, 31 states have rejected or declined to advance SB 1070 copycats,* and while five states opted to follow Arizona’s misguided example and approve similar anti- immigrant legislation, all five have been sued and have been prevented from implementing the law in full. This stands in stark contrast to what was expected in the immediate aftermath of SB 1070, when various news reports predicted that as many as half of the states would pass similar legislation.

Congressional inaction to address immigration has fueled the consideration of increasingly draconian measures by state and local governments. Although the federal government alone has the authority to regulate immigration, an increasing number of states and local jurisdictions have begun stepping into the vacuum, leading to a rise in immigration-related measures, most of which are punitive and have proven detrimental
to the jurisdictions that passed them. Moreover, by authorizing law enforcement to inquire into the immigration status of those they deem “reasonably suspect” of being present without legal documentation, SB 1070 subjects anyone who looks different or is perceived as foreign to discrimination, thereby opening the door to racial profiling. While legislators passing such measures claim that their efforts have focused on undocumented immigrants, anti-immigrant policies have also led to an increasingly hostile environment toward legal immigrants and Latinos citizens. A 2008 Pew Hispanic Center survey of Latinos, including U.S. citizens and immigrants alike, found that nearly one in ten Hispanic adults in the U.S. reported that police or other authorities had asked them about their immigration status in the past year. More importantly, the study found that 35% of native-born Hispanic citizens (who cannot be deported) worry a lot or some about deportation for themselves or their loved ones.2 After the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona, 72% of Latinos believed that police would be inclined to stop and question a person because that person is Latino.

While immigration has often been a bipartisan issue, anti-immigrant voices growing in the Republicans’ ranks have appeared to move that political party toward supporting an increasingly anti-immigrant agenda. Consequently, large wins for the Republican Party in 2010 state elections contributed to the expectation that Arizona-style anti- immigrant legislation would be approved in many state legislatures in 2011. Indeed, most states considered legislation modeled after Arizona’s law in the 2011 legislative session, but the majority of these bills were rejected due to concerns about cost, threats of litigation, business losses, and damaged state reputation. Despite the fact that anti- immigrant legislation was primarily advanced by members of the Republican Party, half of the states that rejected such legislation were Republican-controlled, with two-thirds of those enjoying Republican supermajorities. This indicates that while the anti-immigrant movement has made inroads in the Republican Party, Republicans themselves are divided about the implications of Arizona-style anti-immigrant legislation, recognizing, as others have, the negative effects of such a law.

Unfortunately, in 2011 five states (Utah, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina) opted to ignore the negative impact that SB 1070 had on Arizona and approve similar legislation in their states. As a result, similar negative effects are now beginning to surface in those states in the form of legal challenges, economic losses, and an increase in racial discrimination. Thus, while these bills are being presented under the guise of addressing immigration concerns, the balance sheet does not bear that out. Their costs, unintended negative economic effects, and discriminatory effects, combined with the fact that these bills have been found to worsen many of the problems that they were intended to solve, show that such legislation is motivated more by political posturing than by attempts to create pragmatic state policy.

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One thought on “The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Legislation in 2011

  1. It’s my hope that Mitt Romney sticks to his guns, should he gain acceptance by the voters for president? Any time before the presidential election, whether Gubernatorial, State, County or local election, without revising of federal election laws every citizen-voter must be committed to fighting voter fraud. Do not believe that voter fraud is not proliferating across the country, as Democratic appointed ACORN has shown otherwise? The Left will do anything to implode any of the Republican chances of winning the presidency, including the backing of illegal registrations of non citizens voting. Be alarmed, because there is every possibility of forged absentee ballots or even non-citizens filling in registrations. All candidates whether Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul need to be aware of the vicious other side who don’t play fair? Mitt Romney has one of NumbersUSA strongest grades for his immigration record, so any candidate must be held accountable for their promises to the American people.

    Neither political party is exempt from the massive illegal immigration problem, which has magnified over time? Every promise to enforce our immigration laws has been undone, beginning with the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). It was enacted to fail, because it would be detrimental to incorrigible businesses for low-priced labor and the Democrats hoped to overpower the GOP will votes—LEGAL AND ILLEGAL. It has been foolhardy to trust the majority of those in power in Congress. It is only since the positive manifestation of the American People’s Party, known only too well as THE TEA PARTY, that the legal residents of this nation have found trust. Since the inception of the TEA PARTY, the old “Quid Pro Quo” is starting to fade and leave office. They no longer can command the underhand laws they have passed, as the majority of the people want immigration laws enforced and not determined by selling favors to special interest lobbyists, for special bills to be passed? It’s inevitable a few TEA PARTY leaders will fall beside the wayside, as corruption has its abundance in Washington; they will be watched and not reelected.

    The Washington rotting pattern has been there even before the 1986 law, supposedly to heavily sanction with fines and incarceration of businesses who hire illegal workers. Nothing happened and nothing would, that’s why millions were encouraged to cross borders or catch the next international flight, with unlawful intentions? It’s even absurd that the Congress never made it a Felony, to enter America without permission. Why bother to even respect these countries laws, when entrance is only punishable in a civil court? Two federal mandatory laws that can make an unparalleled difference who gets to stay here, or gets deported. The E-Verify program that thousands of reputable businesses are now using, will remove illegal aliens from the workplace, under the current title of “The Legal Workforce Act”. Second law that is just as demanding is an Amendment to the 14th Amendment, stopping the travesty of foreign babies recognized as citizens, even when no parents has legal status. Directly correlated to the number of immigrants pouring into this nation, is our school system that is breaking down in communities where the English language is seldom the first tongue, anymore.

    Hundreds of thousands of illegal parents annually use this flaw in the 14th amendment, to seduce the welfare benefit programs that the whole family can use? The Democrats state that illegal parents cannot apply for food stamps, Wicca and other so called solid laws only applicable to citizens or some legal residents; a complete travesty, as parent can apply in the name of the citizen child or children and accumulate food stamps, section 8 housing and other entitlement programs. This in itself is a billion dollar fraudulent industry, that taxpayers are coerced to pay? It’s not that we are attracting poverty across the border, but foreigners with heinous criminal records of assault, homicide, child molester, drunk drivers and whole litany of individuals, ready to steal, hijack, invade a home or even kidnap; heavily profuse in Frontier states as Arizona.

    Do the enforcement promises run through legislator’s hands like so much tepid water from either Democrats or Republicans? That before any further concentration on passing some new immigration reform policies, that those meandering around in central government will fulfill the will of the people to build the 2006 Double parallel fence across California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas? The illegal alien issue is not just bad, it is worse than anybody can imagine? It’s costing over a hundred billion dollars a year in unfunded mandated for ever one of the 50 states. It’s costing the central government billions of dollars appointed by the courts, to supplement every illegal alien living conditions with taxpayer coerced money? The federal government has deliberately failed to contain this human pestilence, then when Arizona rises up against the negligence, flowed by Alabama, Georgia, Utah, South Carolina the egomaniac as Eric Holder in charge of the notorious Justice Department sues?

    No wonder the Congress has the lowest grade for its reputation? None of the Senate and House can be trusted, with President Obama spending trillions of dollars, bailing out giant banking institutions in America as well as foreign countries. Not discarded yet is the Obama Care health law, passed behind closed doors and could cause further irreparable damage to our ailing economy. $15 trillion dollars and counting, is there any way out of this financial mess? Are taxpayers once again, paying out for people who wouldn’t work if they could, or people who have skipped borders to benefit from American taxes? Is yet another financially crippling unfunded mandate to reward illegal alien invaders? Then Obama is now using executive decisions over the heads of congress to pardon illegal aliens, should they not committed a crime. Even walking away from Justice and felony’s that they must have committed to get work, using stolen Social Security numbers and other documents? It is ultimately wrong to give a free pass to persons, who violated the laws, when thousands have patiently waited in foreign lands for their chance for a work visa?

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