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Mixed on immigration? Report: State's laws show mixed immigration policy

by Gene Davis
Denver Daily News
Friday, September 12, 2008

A state's stance on immigration policy impacts the number of illegal immigrants who live in that state, according to a report released yesterday by a pro-immigrant rights group.

"The Anti-Immigrant Movement That Failed," which was written by Progressive States Network (PSN), says Colorado has passed mixed policies towards illegal immigrants. Colorado's integrative policies; such as wage law enforcement, criminalization of human trafficking; and punitive policies, such as identification laws, no-bond warrants required for undocumented immigrant defendants; make Colorado one of the seven “mixed”? states in its actions on immigration policy, according to PSN.

Mixed debate

“I think there has been a mixed debate in Colorado,”? said Nathan Newman, the PSN policy director who helped write the report.

Colorado parties on opposing sides of the illegal immigration issue each took something away from the report.

“This study tells us exactly what we already know,”? said TQ Houlton, a spokesman for Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo. “It is obvious that states with stricter immigration laws will have fewer aliens within their populations. That’s the point of the legislation: keeping illegal aliens out.”?

Chandra Russo of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition said the study is proof that the majority of the public wants to work towards integrative policies.

“I think that this report is useful in highlighting that the anti-immigration movement is not working and that anti-immigration policy is hurtful to taxpayers,”? she said.

Russo agreed that punitive policies cause illegal immigrants to leave a state. However, she said the long-term effects of losing the immigrants are devastating.

“One policy, (like) House Bill 1023 (the bill that forbids spending taxpayer money on illegal immigrants), creates havoc on communities and has no effect,”? she said. “Other policies are creating worker shortages.”?

Own agenda

PSN had its own agenda with issuing “The Anti-Immigrant Movement That Failed,”? said Newman.

The policy director said the non-profit was looking to prove that integrative policies are the best way to deal with illegal immigrants who are already in the United States. Another goal of the report was showing that states with the most experience in dealing with illegal immigrants found that punitive policies don’t work, and turned to using integrative policies.

Not everyone who read the report seemed convinced.

“Attempting to use this information as a reason to push for amnesty and other pro-illegal alien measures is simply political pandering to open-borders community,”? said Houlton. “Hopefully states like California and New York will follow in the footsteps of states like Georgia and Arizona in their attempts to curb illegal immigration by enforcing the law.”?