Suman Raghunathan, PSN's Immigration Policy Specialist, joined State
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Laura
of GRITtv to discuss how progressive state legislators across the
nation are fighting back against draconian right-wing anti-immigrant
and advancing common-sense immigration solutions on both the state and
Advocates demanding stricter rules against illegal immigration -- including those backing Arizona's new law clamping down on undocumented immigrants -- have long argued that state lawmakers have been forced to act because of Congress's reluctance to take the lead.
But with little sign that Congress will act on comprehensive immigration reform this year, advocates for immigrants are also taking matters into their own hands. Like their political opponents, they have turned to their state legislatures to fight back.
In states from Pennsylvania to Utah, a battle of bills has been taking place between those who want to reproduce the Arizona law, which hands police more power to detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally, and those who want to extend further rights to immigrants.
Immigrant and workers' rights advocates celebrated a victory in Rhode Island this week with the announcement that State Rep. Peter Palumbo's anti-immigrant bill, closely based on Arizona's widely
criticized SB 1070, would not get a hearing. Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox came out in opposition to Palumbo's bill, and decided to table it -- the proposal was drafted roughly ten days ago, just before the end of the state's legislative session.
JERSEY CITY, NJ — At a press conference this morning, Gov. Jon Corzine
unveiled the results of his Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigration Policy,
which included recommendations for the establishment of an Office on
New Americans to help integrate immigrant families into the state’s
culture and work force. Policy experts at the Progressive States
Network (PSN) were quick to praise the panel’s recommendations, which
they placed within an emerging trend among state lawmakers to include
working immigrant families into plans for shared economic growth.
According to PSN Interim Executive Director Nathan Newman, who authored
a comprehensive 50-state analysis of state immigration policy last
September, “The story that states are rushing out to punish
undocumented immigrants is really a smoke screen. When you look at the
facts, you see that more and more states are finding ways to integrate
immigrants into a growing workforce and thriving small business
community. States like New Jersey realize that there is a far better
economic future in working together than there is in dividing the
population against itself.”
News item #1: As of Nov. 30, 13 states had enacted 19 employment laws
related to immigrants since Jan. 1, 2008, according to a December
report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The
laws covered hiring unauthorized workers, employment verification,
unemployment benefits and so forth.
The states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland,
Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
and, of course, Mississippi.
State labor authorities levied nearly $10 million in fines Wednesday for wage violations at an Iowa meatpacking plant where nearly 400 illegal immigrant workers were arrested in a raid in May.
The fines against Agriprocessors Inc.,
one of the country’s largest kosher meatpackers, were the largest wage
violations penalties ever levied in Iowa, state officials said.
About $9.6 million of the fines were for illegal paycheck deductions
the company made for protective jackets and other uniforms that
packinghouse workers were required to wear. Iowa inspectors found
96,436 deductions for uniforms from the paychecks of 2,001 workers, and
brought fines of $100 per incident.
The workers’ wages had been reduced by $192,597, Iowa officials said.
“You cannot legally deduct for clothing required by the company,”
said Kerry Koonce, a spokeswoman for Iowa Workforce Development, the
state’s labor department.