As comprehensive immigration reform remained stalled in Congress in 2011, the issue persisted as a top priority among state legislatures that pushed various bills targeting undocumented immigrants. This week, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) released The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Legislation in 2011, a report that offers a state-by-state breakdown of the status of anti-immigrant bills introduced over the past year.
“Although 2011 saw a wave of Arizona SB 1070-style bills introduced at the state level, the majority of these bills were rejected,” said Elena Lacayo, Immigration Field Coordinator for the Immigration Policy Project at NCLR. “And of the 25 states that rejected these bills, more than half of those were Republican controlled. Now, the few states that disappointingly passed these laws are facing the same legal, economic, and civil rights problems that Arizona has faced.”
In fact, in 2011 many more states considered and advanced laws focused on expanding opportunity for immigrants and residents as a whole in a variety of areas, including access to higher education and labor rights. As the 2012 legislative sessions kick off, scores of state legislators are working to advance commonsense approaches to immigration policy—those that bolster state economies and honor our nation’s values, according to Progressive States Network (PSN), a national organization that provides support to state legislators advancing positive, commonsense immigration measures.
“State lawmakers want what’s best for the states and state economies, and 2011 showed us that legislators are increasingly committed to crafting solutions-based approaches to immigration focused on expanding opportunity and economic prosperity at a time when state budgets need all the help that they can get,” said Suman Raghunathan, Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships at Progressive States Network.
To date, only six states have passed broad anti-immigrant bills modeled off of Arizona’s SB 1070: Utah, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. The NCLR report provides an overview of how this legislation gained momentum, beginning with the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona, and what consequences those states endured as a result of these laws, including immediate legal challenges, economic losses, civil rights violations, and growing mistrust between law enforcement and the immigrant community.
Lacayo and Raghunathan were joined by Isabel Rubio, Executive Director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!), and by Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston for a telephonic press conference where participants discussed why these laws took
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