As this Dispatch will detail, after considerable media hype about Arizona-style bills sweeping across the nation, the reality is that from from Nevada to Arkansas to Massachusetts to Kansas and Rhode Island,
anti-immigrant bills and ballot initiatives largely didn't move or
failed to make this fall's ballot. A key reason: most state leaders
and police chiefs recognize that requiring local governments to assume
immigration enforcement responsibilities from the federal government
will distract them from fighting violent crime and undermine trust with
local residents that are essential to successful community policing.
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.
Who benefits from hyping criminal enforcement as the solution to the
As a Service and Employees International Union (SEIU)
highlights, one key player profiting off the nation's broken
immigration system is the private prison firm, Corrections Corporation
of America (CCA). CCA operates and profits significantly from private
prisons across the country, many of which house immigrants in detention,
a kind of legal limbo in which immigrants are imprisoned while their
cases are being considered, or who are in the process of being deported.
As we highlighted two
weeks ago, the Arizona legislature and Governor's decisions
to pass a punitive, anti-immigrant bill - SB1070
- have unleashed a torrent of condemnations inside and outside of
Arizona. Voices speaking up against the bill have come not only from
civil rights organizations, but have also included public safety
officials, constitutional legal scholars, and, significantly, Republican
leaders and candidates from other states with
significant immigrant populations.
This week, the Arizona Senate passed the nation's most draconian
immigration law - which criminalizes the undocumented and those
accused of assisting them - that many critics say will drive racial
profiling and further undermine Arizona's devastated economy. The bill
now awaits now awaits Governor Jan Brewer's veto or approval.
Recent reports have raised serious concerns about program failures,
secret deportation quotas and the high costs of the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS)'s controversial 287(g) program, which trains and
authorizes state and local police departments to enforce federal