Illegal immigration: Arizona’s retreat

The Arizona state Senate voted down a slate of new anti-immigrant laws.

Common sense has returned to Arizona, said The Arizona Republic in an editorial. Our state drew the wrong sort of national attention last year with a draconian new law requiring state police to check the papers of anyone who might possibly be an illegal immigrant. Last week, however, the Arizona state Senate, including six Republicans, voted down a slate of new anti-immigrant laws that would have denied health care to all illegal immigrants and citizenship to their children. The stunning reversal came after strong lobbying from the state’s business community, which has already lost $200 million as a result of boycotts called to protest last year’s law, and fears the loss of billions more. “Arizona needs jobs,” not more legal battles, and not the stigma of being a state that’s hostile to Hispanics.

If Arizona wants a better model for dealing with the immigration issue, said Daniel Wood in The Christian Science Monitor, it need look no further than the state just to its north—Utah. Utah’s Republican governor this week signed into law what is being called “the Utah Compact”—a pragmatic approach in which the state issues permits to “guest workers” from Latin America, because they’re critical to the state’s economy. Actually, that welcome mat only creates “false hopes for immigrants,” said immigration lawyer Leonor Perretta in The Salt Lake Tribune. It promises work permits and health care to otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants if they pay a fine of up to $2,500—but only if the federal government gives Utah a waiver from existing federal law. That waiver will never come. The Constitution gives the federal government the sole power to make immigration law, and it won’t surrender that power to Utah or Arizona.

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