Where Arizona has led on illegal immigration, others are following

Posted on January 6, 2011


President Obama and his sidekick Eric Holder better not look now because although the Obama administration isn’t too keen on Arizona’s SB-1070 law, a number of other states are:

Twenty-five states are considering “copycat” immigration laws similar to the one passed in Arizona last year. And with 680 new Republican legislators elected in the 2010 GOP landslide, including control of both houses and the governorship in 15 states (16 if you include Nebraska’s unicameral legislature), a good number of them are expected to pass and be signed into law.

 Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee all have “some combination of the following: a re-elected, highly motivated potential bill sponsor, an already introduced measure similar to Arizona or a legislature-approved resolution supporting Arizona’s SB 1070, as well as a conservative Governor and a conservative majority in the legislature,” according to the National Immigration Forum, a pro-illegal immigration group.

Reuters has the rundown on each of these individual states’ efforts  but notes that none of the other states that share a border with Mexico (California, New Mexico, and Texas) are getting on the SB-1070 bandwagon.  That may be true at the state level, but within California there is an area that is beginning to crack down on illegal immigrants, or at least the hiring of them:

MURRIETA, Calif. — Protests erupted across Southern California last year when Arizona adopted its tough immigration law: immigrant rights advocates staged rallies in cities like San Diego and Santa Barbara; Los Angeles severed economic ties with Arizona.

But just 50 miles east of Los Angeles, a handful of cities have started crackdowns similar to those in Arizona on businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

In what may be the single most Democratic state in the country, with a huge, fast-growing Latino population, the area known as the Inland Empire — a sprawl of suburbs, old and new — has emerged as a pocket of ideological resistance in a state that has grown increasingly averse to crackdowns on immigration.

Late last month, Murrieta became the fifth Inland Empire city to require all businesses to check the legal status of new employees with E-Verify, an online federal government system designed to confirm employment eligibility. Businesses that do not comply could lose their licenses.

Fining businesses and possibly even revoking their licenses for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants is an idea Arizona has already implemented.  In 2008 the Legal Arizona Workers Act (a.k.a. Arizona Employer Sanctions law) went into effect.   For three years the law has been used to assure Arizonans that people working in the state were legally allowed to do so.  It was challenged and upheld by the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.   But cracking down on illegal immigration is not something the Obama administration seems keen on doing.  Instead the administration is keen on cracking down on states, Arizona in particular.  Arguing that Arizona cannot punish businesses by who violate state immigration law, the Obama administration challenged the Employer Sanctions law before the Supreme Court last year.  Arguments were heard in December.

The count stands at two Arizona laws challenged by two federal government lawsuits. However, when it comes to the states making a choice between implementing Arizona type laws or siding with the Obama administration, over half have already chosen to side with Arizona’s.  If we could only get the other states on board as well, we wouldn’t have to worry about that pesky argument the administration makes  by saying “we can’t have 50 states with 50 different immigration laws.”   Instead, we’d all have Arizona’s!

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