In conjunction with today’s discussion with elected officials who have been at the center of the immigration debate, the Center for American Progress released the report “Beyond Arizona: Without Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Intolerance Will Rise Across Our Country” outlining how these laws, in particular Arizona’s S.B.1070, thrive in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform.
According to the report, S.B. 1070 could result in more racial profiling and the wrongful detention of legal residents. It is the most severe immigration enforcement law enacted by any state since 1994, when California voters approved Proposition 187, a measure that proposed denying education, nonemergency health care, and other public services to undocumented immigrants. A federal court subsequently ruled the proposition was unconstitutional because it trampled on the federal government's exclusive jurisdiction over immigration matters.
Yet laws like these will continue to receive support from an impatient public that is easily influenced by restrictionist rhetoric. Citizens across the country, but especially those along the southern border, increasingly believe that rising crime rates are due to growing undocumented immigrant populations—even though there has been a drop in violent crime in major cities along the U.S.-Mexico border and undocumented immigrant entries into the United States have fallen in recent years due to the economic recession and tighter border security. As the local officials at today’s event noted, this raging political firestorm will not end until constitutionally sound federal solutions are in place.
The report examines the rapid rise in state and local immigration enforcement measures that have been implemented in the absence of the needed overhaul of federal immigration law. It reviews how immigration restrictionists are pushing new laws detrimental to the safety of our communities and in violation of the U.S. Constitution, using any scare tactic available to rally support for their cause. And it shows how legal challenges to the harshest of these new laws are succeeding in federal courts across the country. Finally, it presents the case for comprehensive immigration reform, which would put an end to these restrictionist efforts and restore our nation’s legal immigrant heritage.