New Mexico's governor says it is a step backward. Texas isn't touching it. And California? Never again.
Arizona's sweeping new law empowering police to question and arrest anyone they suspect is in the U.S. illegally is finding little support in the other states along the Mexican border.
Among the reasons given: California, New Mexico and Texas have long-established, politically powerful Hispanic communities; they have deeper cultural ties to Mexico that influence their attitudes toward immigrants; and they have little appetite for a polarizing battle over immigration like one that played out in California in the 1990s.
Immigrants arrested for decades-old or minor violations, like marijuana possession, may soon be less subject to deportation in at least one state.
Last week, New York state officials promised to ease deportations of immigrants who had committed minor violations. The New York Times reported that the state’s governor, David Paterson, plans to grant more pardons to immigrants facing deportation.
While officials, state and national lawmakers and citizens line up on either side the immigration reform debate, the leader League of United Latin American Citizens of Ohio has sent a strong message to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones who is vowing to take a Arizona-like immigration law to the ballot.
A week after Jones gathered national media attention stating he and state Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Hamilton, called for legislation that “mirrors” the controversial Arizona law that makes being in the country illegally a state violation, Jason Riveiro, state director of the LULAC, sent a letter to the sheriff stating his support of the Arizona law “can only be described as a cynical and self-serving political ploy. Such actions are inappropriate. You take advantage of not merely immigrant populations, but also of the trust granted you by the very people who elected you into office.
Kristin Everingham traveled more than three hours west to tell her immigration story.
With her 3-month old son, Zahir, wrapped in her arms, the Wichita resident explained to the large crowd gathered Saturday in Stevens Park that she and her husband, Hipolito Gutierrez, were married in Mexico but have not been able to raise their family of four together since he returned south of the border in 2003.
Marie, a Haitian mother, couldn't have been more grateful. "Thank you God for TPS," she recently told an attorney helping her fill out forms that will protect her from deportation. She was referring to temporary protected status, which will allow her to work legally, help Haiti and support her two young children. It's the sentiment that we hear most these days.
As longtime advocates, we at Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center were gratified when the Department of Homeland Security granted temporary protected status to unauthorized Haitian immigrants after the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. Temporary protected status will allow perhaps 100,000 Haitians to legalize their status for the next 18 months.
Lawmakers in at least nine states are using Arizona’s immigration law as a test case to craft similar legislation, ratcheting up the pressure on the federal government to act before states enact a patchwork of laws that undercut federal authority.
Arizona’s S1070 opened a door that national anti-illegal immigration advocates had been pushing against for years. Groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and its legal wing, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, have sought for years to create model legislation on illegal immigration that would withstand legal challenges and create a blueprint for states and cities that wanted to follow suit.
When Arizona passed a law that handed local police unprecedented authority to investigate and arrest suspected illegal immigrants, the state ignited a firestorm in a midterm election year. And for Kris Kobach, the former Bush administration lawyer who helped draft the legislation, the crackdown in Arizona is just the beginning.
Many proponents of Arizona's harsh new immigration law cite rampant crime and violence at the border as the impetus behind the push to turn police into immigration agents and undocumented workers into criminals.
But immigrants are less likely than native-born residents to commit crimes, and presence in the US without papers is a civil, not a criminal offense. As the Immigration Policy Center points out, Arizona's crime rates have been steadily falling in recent years despite increased flows of undocumented immigration. It is unclear how directing police officers, under threat of lawsuit, to target these residents will make Arizona safer. In fact, law enforcement officials from across the country warn that SB 1070 may have the opposite effect, and compromise public safety by diverting scarce police resources away from targeting criminals, regardless of citizenship status.
The recent tragic death of Arizona rancher Rob Krentz made national headlines and brings new attention to the problem of border security. The killing of the third-generation rancher by suspected members of a Mexican drug cartel has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate as residents of border states and politicians cite the episode as further proof that the U.S. must do more to secure the violent U.S.- Mexico border. The murder of Krentz comes at a time when well-armed cartel factions have lately battled each other and federal authorities in several Mexican border cities, resulting in thousands of brutal killings, kidnappings and gun battles. The increased violence has brought renewed cries by border state residents for help from the government in securing the U.S. border.
Here we go again. It seems like an eternity since immigration reform was part of the national dialogue: Back in 2006-2007, George W. Bush was president, and Senator Ted Kennedy was leading the push for a bipartisan immigration reform package in the Senate with the collaboration of Senator John McCain of Arizona. Their proposal ultimately failed, and the 2008 presidential campaign halted all forward movement to reform our outdated immigration system.