Since the passage of Arizona’s SB1070 law similar laws have been proposed in other states around the country. These laws have generally been found to be unconstitutional because they are preempted by federal law, as the federal court noted in Arizona last month. They are also problematic because they encourage racial profiling by requiring law enforcement officials to seek identification papers from anyone who looks like an immigrant. And they can cost states lots of money in legal fees and economic losses.
States and legislators can provide alternatives to anti-immigrant legislation. High-quality positive alternatives include addressing wage enforcement and workers’ rights, integrating immigrants into communities, supporting English language instruction, community policing, and supporting women and minority entrepreneurs to help build local economies and grow jobs.
Good examples of these actions, including model legislation, can be found here:
Suman Raghunathan, “Immigration-Related Bills to Move in 2011 State Legislative Sessions,” Progressive States Network, July 23, 2010.
Legislators can also use their unique voices to engage the debate via blogging, writing op-eds, joining panel discussions, providing press statements and/or conference calls on current events, working with their colleagues in groups like the National League of Cities and US Conference of Mayors—which have both made powerful statements opposing the Arizona law—and also via lobbying Congress and the White House.
Examples of all of these can be found here:
Dawn Mabery, “What Legislators Can Do,” (Washington: National Immigration Forum).
It’s also possible to join with other local elected officials concerned about immigration reform to get regular updates and strategies. Two groups that support local elected officials with information, expertise, and online updates are Reform Immigration for America and Progressive States Network. More information is available below.
Reform Immigration for America, “State and Local Elected Leaders for Immigration Reform” (2010).
State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy, “Immigration Reform Letter” (2010).
For more on this topic please see:
– Fighting Back Against Copycat Immigration Laws Like Arizona’s by Henry Fernandez