AUSTIN, Texas - Nearly 250 new immigration laws and resolutions were enacted in 40 U.S. states during the first half of this year, indicating frustration with the federal government's handling of the issue, according to a new report.
The laws range from hiring restrictions to voter identification and allowing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, according to the report released on Tuesday by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The numbers show a slight decrease in activity from last year, but every state and Puerto Rico proposed legislation dealing with the issue in the first six months of 2011. By comparison, only 38 immigration laws were enacted by states in 2005.
"States are reacting to the federal government in inefficiency and they're trying to figure out how to deal with it -- good, bad and ugly," said Wendy Sefsaf, director of communications at the American Immigration Council, a Washington think tank. "Immigration impacts every policy issue there is, and people are trying to figure out how to manage it, for better or for worse, because the federal government won't." Among the findings in the report, released during the council's annual meeting in San Antonio:
* 14 states included funding for immigration initiatives in their budgets.
* Governors vetoed 12 pieces of legislation, including bills related to social services and immigration.
* Ten states enacted legislation requiring businesses or contractors to use the government E-Verify program to ensure the legal status of workers.
* Five states -- Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Indiana and South Carolina -- enacted omnibus laws inspired by Arizona's 2010 law, which gave police the power to enforce immigration. All have been challenged in court.
Critics of undocumented immigration and of granting a path to citizenship to the undocumented currently living in this country often argue that immigrants are a drain on our country’s resources, and the U.S. can simply not afford to continue to support an illicit population that thrives off of government-funded services and programs. However, an ever-increasing number of studies show that the cost of immigrants to this country is wildly inflated, and in fact the contributions the immigrant population makes to the U.S. outweigh their expense.
On Sunday, Nashville newspaper The Tennesseean published an op/ed by Ted Rayburn which put a new spin on the argument that reforming the U.S. immigration system would benefit the economy. Rayburn argues that in an increasingly competitive global market society, the U.S. is in danger of falling behind, as the world’s highly skilled workers are moving en masse to countries with growing economies, such as Brazil and India. He concludes that if the U.S. does not revise its immigration laws to allow these skilled individuals to legally come to the U.S. and work, we will be at a perpetual international disadvantage.
The cogent arguments made by Rayburn regarding the importance of skilled immigrant labor in this country, however, does not preclude the similarly vital importance of unskilled immigrant laborers to the U.S. economy.
In Arizona, recent changes in the state’s immigration laws have illustrated the vital necessity of flexible migrant labor to local industry. As this labor has become increasingly scarce since the passage of SB 1070, many Arizona industries, most notably agriculture, have experienced the negative effects of a worker shortage.Read more...
More than one in four California residents are foreign born, but almost 46 percent of them — 4.6 million people — are naturalized citizens eligible to vote, according to a new report by the Immigration Policy Center.
There were almost 10.2 million immigrants in the state in 2010, U.S. Census data show. That’s 27.2 percent of the population.
Immigrants comprise more than a third of the California labor force, figuring prominently in economics sector such as agriculture, manufacturing and services.
They pay roughly $30 billion in federal taxes, $5.2 billion in state income taxes and $4.6 billion in sales taxes each year, according to state-specific fact sheets compiled by the pro-immigration policy center from a variety of studies in recent years.
Unauthorized immigrants in California paid $2.7 billion in state and local taxes in 2010 and most native-born Californians have experienced wage gains from the presence of immigrants in the state’s labor market, research compiled by center show.
Click here for more numbers on immigrant contributions to the California economy at the Immigration Policy Center website.
President Obama's inability to pass much-needed comprehensive immigration reform could cost him the 2012 election. Though recent news of a rebounding economy, coupled with Republican Party infighting, suggests an alternate narrative, the Hispanic vote is neither uniform nor clearly aligned with the Democratic Party. If Hispanics fail to show up in support of the president in four key swing states — Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado — the election could go to the Republican candidate, likely to be former Governor Mitt Romney.
Time magazine kicked off the topic of Hispanic electoral power with its March 5th cover story, "Yo Decido," written by journalist Michael Scherer. The author noted demographic trends that favor Hispanic predominance in certain places in the nation, and last week, it was widely reported in the U.S. media that about one in six Americans are Hispanic. Additionally, one in six workers in the U.S. is Hispanic, and most Hispanics live in the U.S. legally. They are fully integrated into communities. There is a prevailing assumption that, because a majority of Hispanics are Catholic, they should be naturally allied with more conservative candidates — particularly the two Roman Catholics still in the Republican race as of this writing, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
While the Republicans appear to have learned from some earlier egregious mistakes, like former candidate Herman Cain's jocular comment about electrifying the fence between the U.S. and Mexico, they seem to have a collective tin ear when it comes to Hispanic culture, issues, voting patterns, and history. They don't seem to understand the importance of Hispanics among us, and, surprisingly, they don't seem to really care.Read more...