8 states copying Arizona's immigration law
Even as an appeals court chooses not to lift an injunction on Arizona's controversial law, a host of states are intent on replicating it
The 9th District Court of Appeals this week refused to lift a ban on the most stringent immigration law in the country. Arizona's SB1070, if enacted, would compel state police to demand documentation from anyone they suspected of being in the country illegally, and to apprehend and deport illegal immigrants. The appeals court affirmed that only the federal government has that authority. But even as Arizona's law failed to win judicial approval, states across the country are attempting to put similar immigration proposals on their own ballots. Here, a list of eight Arizona "copycats" trying to create state-only immigration laws:
1. GeorgiaThe state Senate is considering a bill this week that would allow any law enforcement officer to investigate the immigration status of any suspected criminal. The future of the bill is currently unclear. Even though the state House passed the bill earlier this week, the state Senate appears "unlikely to take any action" before the 2011 legislative session closes Thursday.
2. FloridaA bill currently progressing through the Florida legislature would require anyone employed within the state to be subject to a check by "E-Verify," the federal citizenship and immigration registry. This bill will "turn every county in Florida into a little Arizona," said immigration rights activist Florida New Majority. Even so, the Republican-led House voted in favor of the bill earlier this month. If the state Senate approves it, and Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs it, it will become law in October.
3. NebraskaThe Cornhusker State has enacted a raft of anti-immigration laws in the past few years, most recently an edict that denies public assistance to legal immigrants who have lived in the country less than five years. Earlier this year, the legislature approved a bill stripping undocumented immigrants of prenatal care. "Nebraska is starting to look at lot like Arizona," says John Wenz at The Awl. "Legally, at least."
4. AlabamaThe state Senate is considering an "Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration," says Reuters, with measures that would give state police the power to check the immigration status of those detained on other charges, and enact its own version of Florida's "E-verify" law. Wouldn't it have made more sense for lawmakers to wait until Arizona's legal issues were decided, asks an editorial at the Anniston Star, and "craft legislation that could withstand constitutional challenges"? Alabama hasn't the funds for such a costly legal fight.
5. UtahRepublican Gov. Gary Herbert signed four immigration bills into law last month, one of which permits police to check the immigration status of people arrested for serious crimes. The GOP-controlled legislature balanced that with a law that offers work permits to illegal immigrants who have not committed serious crimes. The pair of bills has been billed an "immigration compromise that the rest of the country could model."
6. OklahomaThe state is considering several harsh immigration measures, including the denial of in-state college tuition to high school graduates who cannot prove their immigration status, and the extension of human trafficking offenses to include transporting undocumented workers. These "punitive" measures unfairly attack the children of immigrants, says an editorial in Tulsa World. "Is Oklahoma becoming little more than Arizona's mean little brother?"
7. VirginiaVirginia's state legislature is considering a bill that would ban unauthorized immigrants from studying at public universities, and is also enforcing an "E-Verify" law for the state's executive branch agencies, which goes into action in June. Starting in December 2013, private companies that receive state contracts will also need to check that its employees are legal U.S. residents.
8. South CarolinaThe state legislature is in the final stages of passing a bill that would allow police to check immigration status during stops or arrests. The measure also makes it a felony to sell or produce fake IDs for illegal immigrants. All of these bills, says Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect, show that "ethnocentric resentment" is at an all-time high, especially in the South. As long as that's the case, "these laws — and others like them — will have traction for a nice slice of the public."