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Anti-Immigrant Amendments Fail in Massachusetts State Legislature

Yet another set of anti-immigrant proposals, this time offered as last-minute amendments to a Massachusetts state budget bill, failed to gain traction last week.  Twenty-seven pages of draconian anti-immigrant amendments were reduced to text that simply re-states existing bars on undocumented residents applying for public benefits.

When originally approved on May 28th, the amendment included a slew of anti-immigrant measures that sought to scapegoat undocumented immigrants and prohibit their access to work, shelter, education, and safety in the state.  In response, the Student Immigrant Movement and other immigrant advocates organized the MassHope 2010 vigil outside of the State House to highlight the knee-jerk, anti-immigrant nature of the amendments.  After 19 days of rallying, protesters celebrated victory.

Failed Anti-Immigrant Legislation Trend :  This triumph of reason over politics means Massachusetts joins several other states where anti-immigrant policies have amounted to nothing more than flawed political opportunism and hot air. 

  • Much of this noise emanates from states whose legislatures have already closed their 2010 sessions, making these promises to introduce legislation mirroring Arizona’s controversial recent immigration law, SB 1070, premature at best. Bills for the 2011 state legislative session will not be considered or voted upon for months, leaving their ultimate success or failure still unknown. 
  • Several Governors, including Texas’ Rick Perry, have already declared their intention to veto broad anti-immigrant legislation based on Arizona’s heavily criticized SB 1070. 
  • In other states such as Rhode Island, whose anti-immigrant bill was killed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives even before it received a hearing, support for anti-immigrant politics and rhetoric is simply not as broad as legislators may think. 

As the White House attempts to revive efforts to overhaul federal immigration laws, public and voter support for comprehensive immigration reform remains strong.  According to polls commissioned by the group America’s Voice, voters on either side of the partisan aisle want common-sense, federal immigration reform that reflects American values, welcomes immigrants and provides them a pathway to citizenship.

Resources:
Immigration Policy Center - The Legal Challenges and Economic Realities of Arizona's SB 1070
Progressive States Network - Arizona and the Nation: A Failing State Versus Positive Approaches to Immigrant Integration
Progressive States Network - Arizona “Copycat” Anti-Immigrant Bill Killed in Rhode Island Without Hearing
America’s Voice - Public Opinion on Immigration Reform

Rahul is a summer immigration policy intern at Progressive States Network and a Drum Major Institute Scholar.