Participants gather at a 2010 immigration rally in Washington, DC
THE RISE AND FALL OF BAD IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION
In a victory for our basic values, as well as common sense, the state of Arizona showed signs of reversing some of its problematic strategy on immigration by voting down a package of immigration bills on March 17. According to The Arizona Republic, five immigration measures—which challenged citizenship guarantees of the 14th Amendment, proposed to ban undocumented immigrants from state universities, made it illegal for undocumented people to drive in Arizona, required schools to check their students’ legal status, and required hospitals to check their patients’ legal status, to name a few—were rejected.
It is believed that the economic burden the S.B. 1070 law poses was crucial in the defeat of the aforementioned measures. Indeed, this wave of anti-immigrant legislation has sparked divisive opinions, including President Obama’s staunch criticism. He added at a naturalization ceremony on April 2010 that the law undermines “basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”
Despite the negative socioeconomic consequences that this wave of anti-immigrant legislation brings to our country, a significant number of state legislatures are considering the adoption of Arizona S.B. 1070 copycat laws. Meanwhile, Utah has adopted a package of moderate immigration bills. While far from perfect, these laws do provide for a “milder” enforcement law, as well as a guest worker program.
Now that the need for a comprehensive immigration reform is back to the public dialogue, this is the time to remind Americans that harsh state-level immigration laws are misguided and will hurt our economy in the short and long run. And in turn, Capitol Hill must bear in mind that it’s their duty to tackle this issue instead of allowing states to take immigration matters into their own hands.
For more information about our work on immigration, please read:
- Talking Points: A Winning Narrative on Immigration
- Talking Points: Uniting Our Voices on Arizona S.B. 1070
- Public Discourse on Immigration in 2010
- Bad Ideas Running Aground, by Alan Jenkins