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Jun 25th, 2010

Legislators Aim to Copy Arizona Immigration Law

Politicians in as many as 18 states seek to push similar measures

Image: Kristin Olstrom, Bryan Henricksen
Kristin Olstrom, who is opposed to a proposed law that would ban hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants in Fremont, Neb., gives election material to supporter Bryan Henricksen on Saturday, June 19, 2010. (Photo credit: Clay Lomneth / AP)

June 25, 2010

BOISE, Idaho — Arizona’s sweeping new immigration law doesn’t take effect until next month, but lawmakers in nearly 20 other states are already clamoring to follow in its footsteps.

Gubernatorial candidates in Florida and Minnesota are singing the law’s praises, as are some lawmakers in other states far from the Mexico border such as Idaho and Nebraska. But states also are watching legal challenges to the new law, and whether boycotts over it will harm Arizona’s economy.

The law, set to take effect July 29, requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they think is in the country illegally. Violators face up to six months in jail and $2,500 in fines.

Lawmakers or candidates in as many as 18 states say they want to push similar measures when their legislative sessions start up again in 2011. Arizona-style legislation may have the best chance of passing in Oklahoma, which in 2007 gave police more power to check the immigration status of people they arrest.

Bills similar to the law Arizona’s legislature approved in April have already been introduced in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Minnesota, South Carolina and Michigan, but none will advance this year.

Federal action

The debate is putting pressure on Congress and the Obama administration to act. In 2007, when states like Idaho and Kansas were making English their official languages as part of an immigration-related push, then-President George W. Bush failed to persuade even many Republican allies in the U.S. Senate to agree to combine increased border enforcement with a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

President Barack Obama has called Arizona’s law irresponsible, but Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says it helped prompt him to send 1,200 National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexican border, mostly to her state. She and Arizona Sen. John McCain say that’s not enough. …

Obama is asking Congress for $600 million in emergency funds for 1,000 more Border Patrol agents, 160 new federal immigration officers and two unmanned aircraft, but immigration is not at the top of his priorities this year. An Associated Press-GfK poll this month found that 85 percent of people now rank immigration as an important issue, and about half disapprove of how Obama has handled it. …

Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee, called Arizona’s bill “a wonderful first step.” …

And in Nebraska, where many Hispanics have found work at meatpacking plants, some blame illegal immigrants for draining community resources. Last week, the town of Fremont approved a ban on hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants.

State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont vows to introduce an Arizona-style bill in 2011 and says foes of illegal immigration must gird themselves for a fight.

“They will use words like ‘racism’ and ‘profiling’ when we talk about enforcing our laws,” said Janssen, a Republican in Nebraska’s officially nonpartisan legislature. “But now is when we must stand together.”

Wish list

William Gheen, president of the North Carolina-based Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee, said the more states that sign on, the more likely Congress will be to act. Gheen has led a grassroots campaign to get legislatures to take up Arizona’s bill and believes the topic could become the litmus test in an election year when people are already slamming Washington.

“Any candidate that wants to survive the bloodbath that’s approaching this November needs to come out in support” of Arizona’s law, Gheen said. He sends regular e-mail messages urging about 30,000 recipients to contact their legislators to support similar bills.

Gheen claims that at least 18 states may pass Arizona-style reforms, but the National Conference of State Legislature calls this more a “wish list” than a reflection of likely success. In Pennsylvania, for instance, the issue is being pushed mostly by a single lawmaker.

There has been little sign that the other three states that border Mexico will follow Arizona’s lead. California, New Mexico and Texas have long-established, politically powerful Hispanic communities, and have seen less illegal immigration than Arizona since the 1990s, when the U.S. government added fences, stadium lights and more agents to the border in California and Texas.

Arizona, a state of 6.6 million with an estimated 486,000 illegal immigrants, has been affected by the issue more than other states, said Ann Morse, who heads the National Conference of State Legislature’s Immigrant Policy Project.

In three years, U.S. Border Patrol agents in Arizona arrested nearly 1 million illegal immigrants, about half of all arrests on U.S. borders. More slipped past, fueling a smuggling industry that has been blamed for a steady rise in kidnappings and immigrant safehouses. …


Related links

News coverage: Illegal immigration and immigration reform

Obama could face impeachment if he pardons illegals
(Chris Wessling,, June 26, 2010)

Supreme Court takes on Arizona immigration law
(Jerry Markon, Washington Post, June 29, 2010)


Related report on this site

AZ Tough on Illegal Immigration (April 23, 2010)


6/28/10 Update

Illegal Immigration Issue Keeps Getting Hotter

GOP USA -- The Loft

Opinion by Bobby Eberle
GOPUSA — The Loft
June 28, 2010

This was supposed to be an election year focused on the economy and the terrible job Barack Obama and the Democrats are doing regarding it. Well, it still is, but there is another issue in the mix: illegal immigration. On one hand, it is yet another example of Obama being in over his head and not putting the interests of America first. On the other, the residents of Arizona have had to take matters into their own hands in order to protect themselves.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has risen significantly in the polls since taking action against illegal immigration and the Mexican drug cartels. This has left Sen. John McCain in the hot seat since he had sponsored the bill that would have granted amnesty to illegal aliens. Now, he’s talking tougher, but still distancing himself from Brewer’s positions.

In the latest on the Arizona illegal immigration battles, Brewer was in the news over the weekend for saying, “I believe today, under the circumstances that we’re facing, that the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels and they are bringing drugs in.”

Tying illegal immigration to the drug cartels in such a way, brought knee-jerk reaction from the media and liberals, who were “stunned” by Brewer’s comments. As reports, “Sen. Jesus Ramon Valdes, a member of the Mexican Senate’s northern border affairs commission, called Brewer’s comments racist and irresponsible.” Of course! Any time someone speaks out against illegal immigration, some liberal will call that person a racist. …

Read more


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — June 25, 2009
Image: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad demands apology from Obama (NBC Today, June 25, 2009) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is accusing President Obama of interfering in Iran. Meanwhile, the opposition vows to continue protesting the disputed election. (01:48)

Ahmadinejad: Obama Just Like Bush

One-year retrospective: One year ago today I reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused U.S. President Barack Obama of behaving like his White House predecessor George W. Bush, calling on Obama to apologize for what he called U.S. interference following Iran’s disputed elections. Against that background, I provided links to psychological profiles of Ahmadinejad, Bush, and Obama developed at my Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics.

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