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Immigration Blueprint

Lawmakers in at least nine states are using Arizona’s immigration law as a test case to craft similar legislation, ratcheting up the pressure on the federal government to act before states enact a patchwork of laws that undercut federal authority.

Arizona’s S1070 opened a door that national anti-illegal immigration advocates had been pushing against for years. Groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and its legal wing, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, have sought for years to create model legislation on illegal immigration that would withstand legal challenges and create a blueprint for states and cities that wanted to follow suit.

“Arizona is the … testing ground where all of these elements are going to come together, both on the political and the legal and cultural and the economic levels,” said Mike Hethmon, an attorney with the Immigration Reform Law Institute who helped craft S1070.

At the same time, opponents of S1070 are hoping Arizona’s example will deter states that are considering similar laws. Michele Waslin, a policy analyst with the liberal Immigration Policy Center, said other states should learn a lesson from the boycotts, protests and bad press over Arizona’s law.

“There’s been such a backlash to this bill, a nationwide backlash, and I think that other states are also going to see the negative impact that this is having on Arizona in terms of the economic boycott,” Waslin said.

Already, some states are moving forward with copycat legislation, and others may be holding off until the legal challenges to Arizona’s law play out in court.

Lawmakers in Missouri, Pennsylvania and South Carolina have introduced bills that borrow major elements from Arizona’s law, and in some cases are virtual mirror images of it.

In Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, Utah, lawmakers have said they will introduce S1070-like bills in 2011. Many states had already ended their legislative sessions, or were nearing completion, when S1070 passed, and some states did not have sessions in 2010.

Hethmon said he expects numerous states to have similar laws on their books by next year. He said he has been on the phone non-stop since the Arizona bill passed, counseling lawmakers in other states who want to draft similar measures.

Ann Morse, an immigration expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the lawsuits that have been, or will be, filed against S1070 may give other states time to watch and learn before following Arizona’s lead.

“It will be a wait-and-see kind of movement by states,” she said.

The architects of S1070 said they anticipated court challenges, and they crafted the bill to mirror federal law and withstand constitutional scrutiny. State and local illegal immigration laws have been struck down in the past on the grounds that they infringed on the federal government’s authority, and groups like the Immigration Reform Law Institute counseled Arizona lawmakers on how to write legislation that will pass muster in court.

Hethmon said many of the state-level immigration laws that have been overturned by the courts were written in haste and without regard for possible lawsuits. Arizona’s law, if it holds up against legal challenges, would set a new precedent and give states a template to write similar laws, which was the goal all along, he said.

The Immigration Reform Law Institute for years has provided legal counsel, courtroom defense and model legislation for states and cities that want to enact tough laws on illegal immigration.

Waslin said the institute was the driving force behind many of local and state immigration laws, which she said represent a misguided effort to show frustration with the federal government.

The Immigration Reform Law Institute “has certainly been shopping this type of legislation around to other states. And there are people who are going to be receptive,” Waslin said.

Arizona’s law, though, is more than a call to action for other states. Since S1070 passed, President Obama and congressional leaders have called for increased border security and federal immigration reform. On May 5, Obama asked Congress to begin work on a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Some hope federal action will head off Arizona-style laws in other states. Others see the immigration imbroglio as an opportunity to lock down the U.S.-Mexico border. But with their stock falling as the 2010 midterm election approaches, the Democratic majorities in Congress may be loath to tackle such a politically perilous issue.

Comprehensive immigration reform appears to lack the momentum it did the last time it was introduced in Congress, in 2007. Leaders of past immigration reform movements, such as U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham, have withdrawn their support and now say the border must be secured before anything else is considered.

James Carafano, a defense and homeland security expert with The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank, said there is virtually no chance that Congress will take up border security or immigration reform in 2010.

“People think that somehow something’s changed dramatically since 2007, and the answer is, it hasn’t. Americans are not of one mind on this issue,” Carafano said.

Of course, Arizona and other states have been passing illegal immigration laws for years, and it hasn’t spurred Congress to action. According to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 1,500 bills dealing with immigration were introduced in state legislatures in 2009, 222 of which passed. In 2008, 1,305 bills were introduced with 206 enacted.

But by taking the lead on the issue and showing that states can pass such an extensive law on illegal immigration, Arizona provided a spark that wasn’t there before, said Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe. Metcalfe on May 4 introduced the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, which not only shares similar language with S1070, but the exact same name as well.

“There’s a lot of Pennsylvanians who have been watching the national news and are very excited that Arizona has passed such a comprehensive piece of legislation directed at ending the illegal alien invasion,” Metcalfe said. “That is going to enable us to create more energy to move this legislation forward.”

South Carolina Rep. Eric Bedingfield, who introduced an Arizona-style illegal immigration law in his state’s Legislature, said S1070 motivated people in other states by showing “progress in an area where progress was needed.”

“It’s like anything else. All legislation to a certain extent is a kicking off point for a conversation about a certain issue,” he said. “No question that as the process was underway in Arizona, I’m sure members of legislatures around the nation, around the United States, were getting e-mails saying … ‘When are we going to look at this?’”

11 comments

  1. SB1070 what a joke, this bill was only crafted for political gain, the mid-terms are coming up and Jan Brewer & Clan needed a power play,well this was it, but it seems a least from my standpoint that this will backfire on them, do they seriously think that any Hispanics are going to cast a vote their way, Not Happening, instead if anything they will go the other way, as for border enforcement ( WHERE IS IT ) Jan Brewer signed the bill to stem the flow of illegals coming across the border, but yet the policing is going to take place in the cities & towns in Arizona, it seems that if you want to control the border you implement enforcement at the border, even McCain & Kyl are doing the same push for control at the border, now correct me if i’m wrong, was’nt the GOP in power for 8 years, why did’nt they continue the fence/wall from the California line thru to New Mexico, it’s only now, 6 months away from the mid-terms that it seems to be important, to McCain & Kyl, Politics as usual, all they are doing is looking out for themselves, why has,nt any news group asked these simple questions, because they are not supposed to. When a Govenor has the power to send the National Guard to the border, to aide the Border Patrol, and fails to do so, you know that something is rotten in the State of Arizona, it’s not rocket science, this is really not about illegal immigration,if it were, we would have had the Guard on the border a long time ago, and the fence/wall would of been built, this is politics nothing more than that,come this November all things will become clear.

  2. Thank you AZ and keep up the good work! The issue is a common sense no brainer to me. Millions of AMERICANS out of a job and illegal foreign labor coming north and taking our jobs. Our nation is so politically correct we can’t get together on this issue. I know one thing for certain, the Americans that oppose this bill are profiting from illegal’s or they are not affected by it. Wait until your community is over run with illegals and then you will know our pain. Here in SW FL, illegal immigration is so bad that most of my friends have to wait tables in a restaurant instead of the construction crafts they were previously trained in. The illegals will work for much less money and DO NOT pay taxes because they are paid in cash. The illegals continue to drive down wages and pack our emergency rooms for “free” medical treatment. They also strain our already strapped social services. Send the illegals a strong message with AZ law and maybe they will stay in their own countries!!!

  3. I have been waiting to see if any other state legislators would step up and support Arizona. I thought all of the real Americans fell asleep like our federal government. All these illegal lovers did is wake up the sleeping giant of real Americans for American’s. Keep up the support for Arizona, all the traitors that want to boycott a state within the Union of the U.S. for the illegals should be stripped of their State & Federal positions.

  4. I too look forward to the legal battles, which i hope go in Az’s favor. The country is tired of fitting the bill for all these people. we have the support of most of America. It is just the liberal s who want to do the boycotts and stuff. All the polls show most americans want this.

  5. I Like the new Arizona law and I hope it spreads to all 50 States. Our Federal Government has FAILED all of us in not stopping this INVASION of the 20 million illegal aliens.

    Illegal aliens are destroying this Country, and one would have to be almost blind not to see this. How much longer do we have to support these illegal aliens? How much longer do we have to school their illegal alien children? How much longer are we going to let them have our jobs? How much longer are we going to put up with all the crime, stolen identities, forged documents, fake green cards? How much longer are we going to allow these illegal aliens to send money out of this Country and bring our Country down? Oh, amnesty will correct all this. WRONG! Nothing will change except we wouldn’t be able to call them illegal aliens any more. Let’s get rid of these illegal aliens! Let’s get them back to their own Country where they belong!

    I’m from Delaware, and we are pressing to get the Oklahoma State Illegal Immigration Law, HB 1804, passed here in Delaware. Three years ago we had about 32,000 illegal aliens here. Today we have about 68,000 illegal aliens here. We have had it! We want our State back!

  6. Attrition through enforcement………Lets take our country and tax money back !!!

  7. Our first state to go into bankruptcy will be California….., why? Because these government idiots in California welcome illegal aliens and think they know something that nobody else in the country does! You liberals don’t have a clue, have you not figured out that half of your debt is because of illegal immigration?

    This is not about keeping a bunch of Mexicans out of our country! People all over the world want to come here and they should have the same opportunity to apply for citizenship. We don’t need 15 million illegal Mexicans here, if we are going to bring in 15 million new citizens it should be done fairly allowing a diverse group of people to apply for citizenship around the world. We are the greatest country in the world, one reason for this is because we are made up of a diverse population of immigrants. Amnesty will never work, it gives everyone that wants to come here the chance for citizenship if they can get here illegally.

    Let’s stop the racism B.S., secure our borders and take up some immigration reform to solve these problems.

  8. How about keeping with Mexican culture and adopt their immigration laws?

    Mexico law ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:

    •in the country legally;

    •have the means to sustain themselves economically;

    •not destined to be burdens on society;

    •of economic and social benefit to society;

    •of good character and have no criminal records; and

    •contributors to the general well-being of the nation.

    The law also ensures that:

    •immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor;

    •foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;

    •foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics;

    •foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported;

    •foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported;

    •those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.

  9. James, I’m with you all the way. I only wish we had a similar immigration law as Mexico. I especially like the one that basically says; don’t come here and be a freaking leach to our society. We need people that have something to offer this country. For starters what’s wrong with allowing people to come here that have college degrees or a career that would benefit society. We don’t need a bunch of low income, poverty ridden, non speaking English squatters in our country…! We have enough of these here legally….!

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