In the year since conservatives took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and legislative bodies in states across the nation, we’ve seen them move their agenda with alarming disregard for both democracy and the economic security of the nation. From the irresponsibly provoked debt ceiling “crisis” to the wholesale obstruction of job creation efforts, conservatives on the national stage took an approach of reckless political brinksmanship over the past year that put the entire economy at risk. And from Wisconsin to Alabama and beyond, 2011 saw conservatives in the states—buoyed by support from their corporate allies in the 1%—launch attack after attack on workers, women, voters, and immigrants. But the new year brings new hope for progressives looking to turn the tide—hope that, for the time being, largely resides not in the halls of Congress but in the 50 states.
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. Today, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) 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. 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 2012 legislative sessions kick off, scores of state legislators are working to advance common-sense 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, common-sense immigration measures.
Veinte Asambleas legislativas (Congresos estatales), entre ellas 10 controladas por mayorías republicanas, descartaron durante 2011 aprobar leyes migratorias inspiradas en la polémica SB1070 de Arizona, reveló un informe del Consejo Nacional de la Raza (NCLR, el principal grupo hispano de Estados Unidos) difundido el martes.
Over a year after the passage of SB 1070, what happened at the ballot box in Arizona this November was indicative a national backlash against not just anti-immigrant policies, but similar extremist overreach in state legislators on a number of issues. The verdict that Arizonans handed down on State Senator Russell Pearce this November was an historic one, as he became the first state lawmaker in Arizona history and the first Senate President of any state to be recalled. His support for extremist policies – including his close ties with the controversial, corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council – resulted in a bipartisan group of activists leading an ultimately successful charge to rein in his radical agenda.
As comprehensive immigration reform remained stalled in Washington, D.C. in the first half of 2011, common-sense state legislators across the nation took up the fight in their legislative sessions, defeating expensive and misguided enforcement bills that targeted undocumented immigrants and their families. Despite the deluge of SB 1070 copycat bills promised by anti-immigrant groups, attempts to mimic Arizona’s anti-immigrant law largely failed, as did a far-right effort to rewrite the U.S. Constitution by revoking citizenship for children born in the United States. Encouragingly, state legislative sessions saw a wide variety of innovative and common-sense proposals that sought to expand opportunity for all residents, both immigrant and native-born, through approaches emphasizing access to education, workforce development, and community policing.
Beginning almost immediately with the gaveling-in of sessions in January, newly empowered conservatives unleashed a torrent of attacks aimed directly at workers, women, children, immigrants, historically disenfranchised populations, and the very existence of the middle class. Coordinated multi-state efforts like the assault on collective bargaining, extremist restrictions on reproductive rights, broad Arizona-style attacks on immigrants, and attempts to institute new barriers to voting through Voter ID requirements all repeatedly made national news.
The state House of Representatives Thursday approved a bill to give undocumented residents in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, but advocates say they fear eligible students may be scared off by the requirement that they admit their illegal status.