Arizona migrant law inspires other states
Arizona’s state law cracking down on illegal immigrants has inspired similar measures in four other U.S. states, although legislators may await the outcome of pending legal challenges before pressing ahead with them, analysts say.
In late April, Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill requiring police in the Mexico border state to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect is in the country illegally, during the course of a traffic stop or similar legal contact.
The law comes into effect on July 29, pending challenges in federal court by plaintiffs including two police officers, faith and civil rights groups that charge the measure is unconstitutional and a mandate for racial profiling.
Polls show the measure is supported by a broad majority of Americans in this congressional election year.
“Although there are many reports of individual legislators or candidates in various states commenting that they would support or oppose similar legislation, we are aware of only four states with similar bills introduced in the weeks after the Arizona law passed,” said Ann Morse, an immigration analyst at the NCSL.
“Until the court challenges have been decided, I don’t anticipate a great deal of action this year. I’m sure (the) 2011 legislative session will see more introductions,” she added.
Passage of the desert state’s law has re-energized a sometimes bitter debate over illegal immigration in the United States, where an estimated 10.8 million unauthorized migrants work in mostly low-paid jobs such as landscaping, construction and restaurant work.
President Barack Obama supports a comprehensive overhaul of federal immigration laws that would allow undocumented immigrants in good standing to pay a fine, learn English and become citizens.
He also backs tightening border security and clamping down on employers that hire undocumented workers.Obama has spoken out against the Arizona law, and expressed concern that it could inspire a “patchwork” of conflicting state immigration laws.
Days after Arizona passed the law, Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate unveiled a plan to overhaul the country’s immigration laws.
It has so far failed to gain any Republican support, and analysts say the effort is very unlikely to gain traction before the midterm congressional elections in November.Buoyed by their success with the state law targeting illegal immigrants, Arizona Republican lawmakers are planning further legislation to deny U.S. citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.
No bill has yet been introduced.
Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott (Demonstrators in Phoenix march to the state capitol on May 29 to protest against Arizona’s new law to crack down on illegal immigration.)