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.
The national debate on immigration will be heating up in the coming months with the recent introduction of a new comprehensive immigration reform proposal by Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and a likely proposal from Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
As with most states this year, the budget process and response to the
recession dominated Colorado's legislative session. Within that lens,
lawmakers are getting high marks from Colorado advocates like the Bell Policy Center and the Colorado Center on Law and Policy
for advancing key priorities like unemployment insurance, health care
coverage and budget reform while limiting the deficit's impact on the
state's most vulnerable residents. Notably, lawmakers extended health
care to 100,000 low-income and uninsured Coloradans. Still, advocates
note some disappointments and missed opportunities, like failing to
make qualified undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition
rates and neglecting to better regulate payday lenders.
While immigration continued to be debated in states across the country
this session, most anti-immigrant bills were defeated and more positive
approaches to new immigrants were debated. Even in sessions dominated
by budget crises, positive policies were enacted in many states.
States across the country are proposing in-state college tuition rates
for undocumented students, a move mirrored by Congress' proposed DREAM Act,
which was re-introduced at the federal level on March 25th. Currently
ten states allow undocumented immigrants to enroll in state colleges
and universities under the cheaper in-state tuition rate category:
California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma,
Texas, Utah, and Washington. In recent years, anti-immigrant
legislators sought to modify or repeal laws providing access to
in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, though they've failed
each time. This session, those efforts failed again in Utah and Nebraska. Kansas didn't even bring up repealing it.