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States Following Arizona's Lead—But Only With Baby Steps So Far
Even if the Republican leadership in the House were truly dedicated to enacting patriotic immigration reform, the Democrats still control the Senate and the White House. Enacting productive legislation on the federal level will be tough.
As I wrote in my previous column Fighting Birthright Citizenship: Will GOP Congressional Leadership Hide Behind The States (Again)?, the next frontier is barring "anchor babies" from state citizenship. But there are a number of avenues that states can take to tackle illegal immigration, and a variety of measures have already been passed.
States can bar illegal aliens from receiving in-state tuition (or better yet, attending any higher education—it's as easy to use E-Verify on universities as jobsites, and Plyler vs. Doe doesn't cover universities), receiving driver's licenses, and any non-federally-mandated services (i.e. other than emergency room care and primary education). They can make more stringent voter-ID laws to prevent illegal aliens from voting. They can mandate E-Verify for government contractors, or better yet every business. They can enter in 287(g) programs to empower local law enforcement.
And of course, there is
Within weeks of its passage,
legislators in dozens of other states introduced
copy-cat legislation. The national immigration debate
began to center around this one bill. A number of new
Republican governors including Nathan Deal of
But, thus far, not one of them has done a thing to push through such a bill.
This is not to say the new crop of governors have been completely useless on immigration.
Hispanic New Mexico governor Susanna Martinez—who said she does not support SB 1070—issued an executive order rescinding Bill Richardson's sanctuary policies and requiring police to look at the immigration status of criminal suspects (though forbidding them to do so with witnesses and victims to crimes.)
Scott spoke at the Hispanic Leadership Network pander-fest, and avoided the issue completely.
When pressed by reporters, he stated, albeit clumsily, that he still supported the basic premise of Arizona law "So, if you are in our country, and you're stopped – just like if I get stopped for speeding – you're stopped, uh, for violating the law, you should be asked whether you're legal or not." However, when pressed if he would actually help push the bill forward he was evasive. NBC Miami reported, "The Governor was asked when he intends to help legislators draft his immigration reform and whether he's sensed opposition from Latin or Hispanic leader…He wouldn't answer either question."
For a SB 1070 style bill to pass in
"He would like to see us move to something that resembles a statewide 287(g) program, it is already federal law. Let's go with what we know works -- with what we have seen working in Gwinnett, Hall, Whitfield and Cobb counties -- and that we know will keep the state out of court."
[Court challenge predicted for Arizona-style bill aimed at illegal immigration, by Jeremy Redmon, Atlanta Journal Constitution, January 26, 2011]
There is a serious problem with this calculation: the 287(g) program requires the good faith of the Obama administration. But in 2009, the Administration revised ICE's 287(g) agreements to bar law enforcement from checking immigration status beyond anyone who also committed a serious crime.
Of course, the vast majority of illegal aliens are not rapists, drug dealers, or murderers. This does not change the fact that they impose huge fiscal, social and political costs upon American citizens. The 287(g) legislation is a valuable tool to help local law enforcement, but with Obama running ICE, it cannot have close to the same impact as SB 1070.
Nathan Deal's apparent turnaround on SB 1070 is the most disappointing. Deal had one of the strongest immigration records in Congress. More importantly, he won the nomination almost solely on his strong support of immigration control. As I wrote after his victory,
"Two weeks before the primary, Deal was in a distant
Patriot Nathan Deal on the
Verge of Victory WINS in Georgia,
August 11, 2010]
I am sure Deal will sign an
Still, this is not to say that we must have a governor pushing the legislation. Jan Brewer did nothing to promote SB 1070 prior to its passage and let it sit on her desk for a week before signing it.
With strong grassroots activist and leaders in the state legislature, bills can get through, and any Republican governor who does not want a primary opponent knows better than to veto it.
Not all patriotic immigration reform advocates think it's important for another state to pass 1070 legislation.
Mark Krikorian told the Washington Post
places were not going to pass
The article continues,
"But Krikorian also said that
The post also quotes FAIR's Dan Stein:
"Dan Stein, president of the
Federation for American Immigration Reform, which
supports tougher immigration restrictions, said states
will probably bite off the small pieces of the
But here, I must depart from my fellow Beltway patriotic immigration reformers. While we should encourage E-Verify, 287(g), and other positive steps, it is absolutely essential for more states to pass Arizona-style Legislation.
The people of
Another state passing SB 1070 makes
a statement that
And focusing on other aspects of local immigration control do not make things any better.
Moreover, using E-Verify and 287(g) are not immune from litigation. Arizona has the toughest E-Verify laws on the book with the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which they have had to litigate up to the Supreme Court. There is a good possibility that it will end up with a 4-4 decision (Kagan recused herself) meaning that other states that pass E-Verify laws will have to litigate it in lower courts. The Justice Department is suing Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for concocted civil right violations based in part on raids he made under 287(g.)
The Obama administration, and the dozens of business, ideological, and ethnic legal foundations with budgets in the tens of millions of dollars with whom the Justice Department colludes, will sue any minor attempt to restrict immigration on the local level. Both the Schumer-Menendez-Reid Senate plan and the Ortiz-Gutierrez Comprehensive Immigration Reform ASAP would nullify all state immigration laws in addition to respectively restricting and eliminating 287(g)
For other states to support Arizona would send an important message: that these states don't care what the Obama administration, the ACLU, and La Raza think; and that they will stand with the American People—who tell poll after poll that they support SB 1070.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.