The Next Arizona
After Arizona passed its crackdown law on illegal immigration, SB 1070, politicians across the country said they planned to introduce similar legislation in their states — even after the Justice Department sued Arizona for overstepping its authority to police immigration. Via Immigration Impact, pro-immigration business coalition Immigration Works USA released a report on which states are most likely to go through with their plans. Based on past enforcement policies and Republican support, four states were deemed likely to pass copycat laws: Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
In total, though, the group points to 25 states that could pass Arizona-style immigration laws — up from recent claims by pro-enforcement groups that 22 states are considering anti-illegal immigration legislation.
Georgia is listed as a likely SB 1070 copier because of its past support for tough immigration enforcement, such as the 2006 Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, which made it harder for illegal immigrants to access state benefits. More recently, the state restricted access for undocumented immigrants to some of its public universities. Still, immigrant rights and Latino groups are pushing back, including with a lawsuit filed earlier this month against the 287 (g) program, which allows local police to take on immigration enforcement under a deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Mississippi is one of four states that mandates the use of E-Verify, an employee verification system that has drawn criticism for errors that keep legal immigrants and citizens from working. Since 2011 is an election year in the state and a large Tea Party movement supports immigration enforcement bills, lawmakers may make an aggressive push for SB 1070-style legislation this year.
Oklahoma has already passed harsh immigration laws and is one of four states with policies that allow them to fast-track deportation for undocumented prisoners. Most anti-illegal immigration laws in the state were spearheaded by state Rep. Randy Terrill (R). One was overturned by a federal appeals court in February, but Terrill has said he hopes to introduce a follow-up bill and promised his immigration legislation would be “Arizona-plus.”
South Carolina lawmakers were among the first to say they would try to copy Arizona’s law, although they did not introduce legislation before their session ended in June. Even after a federal judge blocked key provisions of SB 1070 in July, South Carolina legislators said they would continue their plan to introduce tough anti-immigration bill in the next session.
The report puts 14 states on its “maybe” list: Tennessee, Nebraska, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Colorado, Minnesota, Virginia, Idaho, Missouri, Kansas and Utah, where lawmakers have proposed both heightened enforcement bills and bills to deal with legal immigration and the undocumented immigrants already in the state.
In the “less likely” category: Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.