As the United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the challenge to Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070, State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy – a growing national group of 94 state legislators representing constituents in 38 states and counting – issued the following statement.
The court and the legal pundits are missing something if their focus rests solely on who should be burdened with enforcing our outdated immigration laws. The real story on SB 1070 is the growing national consensus that the law, and the “self-deportation” approach upon which it relies, is a failed and disastrous approach to immigration — one that has rapidly fallen out of favor in states across the country.
One year after New York State took a major step to simultaneously plug its budget deficit and improve millions of families’ economic security by enacting the Wage Theft Prevention Act, a new report by Progressive States Network is naming New York state as a leader in wage theft prevention among the 50 states.
As we approach the middle of the legislative session in many statehouses across the country, it’s clear that state legislators are continuing to abandon the unconstitutional, anti-immigrant approach modeled off of Arizona and Alabama’s economically disastrous laws. Legislators, responding to changing demographics and politics, have instead started to focus on plausible and inclusive strategies aimed at broadening prosperity and increasing opportunities for all – regardless of immigration status.
E-Verify is a federal pilot employment-verification system that filters a worker’s identification information through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases---in theory, flagging as ineligible any worker whose information doesn’t match up with federal records. This controversial system has become a go-to talking point for anti-immigrant officials intent on a misguided “self-deportation” policy, which does nothing to address the root causes of America’s broken immigration system.
While federal efforts to fix our broken immigration system remain on hold, support is growing among state lawmakers for common-sense, proactive approaches that welcome immigrants and expand opportunity for all, both immigrant and native-born. Across the country, a growing and diverse number of forward-thinking state legislators are turning away from unconstitutional, divisive, and economically devastating approaches taken by states such as Arizona and Alabama. Instead they are advancing inventive policies that make economic sense for states’ bottom lines and uphold their reputations. One such approach, tuition equity, continues to gain political and popular support and build momentum in statehouses across the country.
As state legislatures begin to pick up speed early in the 2012 session, a growing number of states that passed broad anti-immigrant laws over the past two years are seeing the error of their ways. Citing widespread economic devastation, a dramatically-worsened business climate, and a loss of public support, four states out of the five that passed laws based upon Arizona and Alabama’s flawed models are now seeking to repeal their anti-immigrant laws.
In the year since conservatives took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and legislative bodies in states across the nation, we’ve seen them move their agenda with alarming disregard for both democracy and the economic security of the nation. From the irresponsibly provoked debt ceiling “crisis” to the wholesale obstruction of job creation efforts, conservatives on the national stage took an approach of reckless political brinksmanship over the past year that put the entire economy at risk. And from Wisconsin to Alabama and beyond, 2011 saw conservatives in the states—buoyed by support from their corporate allies in the 1%—launch attack after attack on workers, women, voters, and immigrants. But the new year brings new hope for progressives looking to turn the tide—hope that, for the time being, largely resides not in the halls of Congress but in the 50 states.
As comprehensive immigration reform remained stalled in Congress in 2011, the issue persisted as a top priority among state legislatures that pushed various bills targeting undocumented immigrants. Today, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) released The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Legislation in 2011, a report that offers a state-by-state breakdown of the status of anti-immigrant bills introduced over the past year. In fact, in 2011 many more states considered and advanced laws focused on expanding opportunity for immigrants and residents as a whole in a variety of areas, including access to higher education and labor rights. As 2012 legislative sessions kick off, scores of state legislators are working to advance common-sense approaches to immigration policy—those that bolster state economies and honor our nation’s values, according to Progressive States Network (PSN), a national organization that provides support to state legislators advancing positive, common-sense immigration measures.