Here we go again. It seems like an eternity since immigration reform was part of the national dialogue: Back in 2006-2007, George W. Bush was president, and Senator Ted Kennedy was leading the push for a bipartisan immigration reform package in the Senate with the collaboration of Senator John McCain of Arizona. Their proposal ultimately failed, and the 2008 presidential campaign halted all forward movement to reform our outdated immigration system.
Arizona's controversial new immigration law reflects a sharp political response to long-simmering conflict over immigration policy in a nation that takes pride in its history as a society built with the help of people from many lands.
Wharton faculty say the timing of the legislation is in part a reaction to stress brought on by the economic downturn, even as declining demand for labor has slowed immigration into the United States. While the statute has drawn widespread attention, faculty contend that it is unlikely to spur major change in broader immigration policy, at least in the near term. "It seems odd to me that this issue came up in Arizona now, given that the economy is so flat," says Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli, who suggests that Arizona politicians are looking for a "scapegoat" by "saying there are no jobs because of illegal workers. It's easy to blame immigrants."
Arizona’s law is—to date—the most extreme and has gone the furthest, but many states and localities have been introducing and passing immigration-related bills for several years, says Michele Waslin, a senior policy analyst at the Immigration Policy Center.
“There is a lot of frustration around the country because Congress, the federal government, has not acted on immigration reform. Everyone knows there is a problem, and it isn’t getting any better,” she says.
The 287(g) program, a lightning rod for criticism, is slowly and quietly melting into an expanded version of Secure Communities, a different and more under-the-radar government program.
Advocates and experts have noticed the switch, as the line to sign up for 287(g), a program that deputizes local police officers to enforce immigration law, has slowed, and the support for Secure Communities, a program screening prisoners for immigration status, grows.
Once again U.S. immigration policies are in the national spotlight. Arizona Gov. Brewer signed legislation on April 23 to authorize the arrest of Arizona residents if a police officer has reasonable suspicion that the person is in the United States without immigration documents. Her decision to sign this legislation has catapulted comprehensive immigration reform from the end of a long list of important Congressional legislation to competing for first place with financial reform.
A new New York Times-CBS poll on immigration reports some surprising numbers: 51 percent of Americans support Arizona's controversial immigration law and 57 percent say immigration laws should be determined by the federal government and not by states. Those positions would seem on the surface to be mutually exclusive. But that's just the beginning of this poll's unusual results. Here's what pundits are concluding about immigration and Americans' unique attitudes.
Democrats want immigration reform on the table as the White House fiscal commission examines ways to reduce deficits, saying there is a “credible connection” between the issue and the country’s fiscal situation.
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andy Stern and Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), both Democrats on the bipartisan fiscal commission, said reforms giving the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States a chance to stay in the U.S. legally could boost the economy and thereby help pay down the debt.
It's not every day in Arizona that the police are so eager not to do their job. Yet the state's latest anti-immigrant crack down has evoked protests from cops across the state, who fear that a new measure to criminalize undocumented immigrants will only make it harder to deal with local crime.
Broad opposition to the law, SB 1070, has produced some of the immigration debate's strangest bedfellows: civil rights advocates have aligned with police chiefs to warn of the consequences of entangling local police in federal immigration policy. And law enforcement officials nationwide have warned that the growing trend of localizing immigration enforcement undermines years of progress in establishing “community policing” techniques that are believed effective in preventing crime.
Arizona’s controversial immigration law was revised over the weekend. The changes, specifying that police may only question the immigration status of those they suspect of being in the country illegally if they have already stopped them for a different reason, represent a state backtrack that critics are latching onto.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer cited “border violence and crime due to illegal immigration” as motivations for signing a controversial law requiring people in Arizona to carry proof that they are in the U.S. legally.
But FBI and U.S. Department of Justice data show that Arizona’s violent crime rate is lower than the U.S. average and has been declining more rapidly than the U.S. average, The Independent found.