State Legislatures Slow on Immigration Measures

March 14, 2011

By JULIA PRESTON, The New York Times

Under newly fortified Republican control, many state governments started the year pledging forceful action to crack down on illegal immigration, saying they would fill a void left by the stalemate in Washington over the issue.

Now, with some legislatures winding down their sessions, the lack of consensus that has immobilized Congress has shown up in the legislatures as well, and has slowed — but not stopped — the advance of bills to penalize illegal immigrants.

No state has passed a law that replicates the one adopted last April in Arizona, which greatly expanded the powers of police officers to question the immigration status of people they stop.

Still, immigrant advocates in many states say the debate has clearly shifted in favor of tougher enforcement. They say they have had to fight just to hold the line on immigration issues that they thought were long settled.

Bills similar to Arizona’s are advancing in Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina. In Kansas and Oklahoma, even though Republicans control the legislatures and the executive branch, immigration proposals have encountered unusually vocal opposition from business.

Arizona-style bills died early in Colorado, and Nebraska decided this month to end its debate on one. Arizona’s law requires state and local police officers to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they stop if they have a “reasonable suspicion” the person is an illegal immigrant.

States also wrestled with other kinds of immigration initiatives. In New Mexico and Washington, Democrats backed by immigrant advocates defeated efforts to repeal laws granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Those two states and Utah are the only ones that give licenses to illegal immigrants.

In New Mexico, the repeal effort was championed by Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican and a Hispanic, who had promised such a move in her campaign last year. A bill she supported was defeated by the Democratic-controlled State Senate on Wednesday. Instead, it approved a bill that added requirements, including fingerprinting, for immigrants without a Social Securitynumber who apply for licenses.

If that bill wins final approval and the governor’s signature, it will create a two-tiered system in which licenses issued to people without proof of legal residence will be distinctively marked. According to license authorities, about 83,000 illegal immigrants are driving in New Mexico.

Ms. Martinez vowed to continue to fight for the repeal, although this is the final week of the legislative session. She called the current law “dangerous” and accused Democrats of “partisan political gamesmanship” for blocking its repeal.

Marcela Díaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a group that led the license fight, said, “It’s a good sign that we will be able to maintain licenses for folks who are living, working and paying taxes in our state, regardless of their immigration status.”

But, she said, “We don’t take anything for granted.”

In Washington State, the debate over driver’s license rules polarized a state that has been relatively tolerant of illegal immigrants, an important part of the work force that picks apples. Several Democrats joined Republicans in supporting a repeal of the license law.

State fiscal authorities estimated that the repeal would cost about $1.5 million a year in new verification technology and monitoring expenses. That swayed some budget-minded lawmakers, and the bill was killed Monday.

“We saw tremendous momentum against us,” said Pramila Jayapal, executive director of OneAmerica, an immigrant advocate group. “But there was a realization that the debate was very divisive, and it was not going to solve the immigration problem.”

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1 Comment - what are your thoughts?

  • Brittanicus says:


    Again–those States that ignore public opinion and the billions of dollars extracted from public service and welfare programs to sustain illegal economic migrants and immigrants will initiate consequences of refugees arriving there from Arizona and other self-restriction States. If Oklahoma, Utah, Georgia Michigan, Florida legislators giving away to indulgent provisions, playing into the greedy hands of industry and other open border seeders. They too will be submerged by mass populations of illegal cheap labor, mainly from low income labor. These people are ready and willing to steal American jobs as they have been doing for three decades. Unsettled by new policing laws throughout the country, unknown numbers of foreigners will head in all directions looking for a better home.

    States that pander to illegal immigrants such as California, Nevada will get their fair share of paperless people, as they spread across the Southwest. California has been soaked for a 24 billion dollar deficit, so how much money is your State taxpayers out-of-pocket subsidizing anybody who makes it this side of the fence or through airports. Illinois itself has to make-up 15 billion dollar deficit, with $4.6 billion attributed to taxpayers paying for foreign illegal settlement. No State is immune if the State lawmakers who decide to tamper down rigid laws. YOU–end up paying for the education, health care and accumulation of other entitlement programs. The schools are crammed with illegal alien children, same with hospitals and the US jails and prisons. Education has flopped as teachers have to spend more time, with students who cannot comprehend English.


    Every State needs to be unswerving towards mandating E-Verify, 287 (G) and Secure Communities police programs. If you are here illegal and get caught, which you eventually will in some scenario you will be deported, with zero tolerance. Amnesty (blanket Amnesty or Comprehensive Reform or Dream Act) is out of the question with the majority of Americans and the growing membership of the Tea Party steadfast in their resolve. We have already had six hidden amnesties since Ronald Reagan’s unenforced 1986 immigration law and we pro-sovereignty groups are suspiciously watching for these irregularities. NumbersUSA does not disguise the facts from the Leftist editorial, but offers disquieting statistics and what is really being done to stem the ever increasing tide of illegal immigrants? The US Government does not always tell The People the full truth, so those interested in the corruption and details emanating from Congress and State Capitols on the illegal immigration issue should investigate the website of Judicial Watch. If you want to call your federal or State Representative directly, find the phone number in the blue pages of your phone directory.

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