They have been beaten time and time again in federal courts.
And they still insist.
Republican-majority Legislatures in several states continue pushing initiatives to curtail undocumented immigration, seemingly indifferent to the legal hurdle represented by the simple fact that immigration policy is a federal issue.
In 2010, anti-immigration advocates did it in Arizona, where shortly after it was signed by Governor Jan Brewer, the SB1070 law was stripped of it most far reaching provisions -- enabling police to question a person's immigration status if they believed she/he was in the U.S. without permission -- by a federal judge, hours before it would have gone into effect.
In 2011, they tried it in Alabama with AB56, considered the strictest anti-immigration law in the country. Among other provisions, it decreed that schools should collect information about the immigration status of enrolling students. This and other parts were subsequently blocked by federal courts.
Now, a new anti-immigration proposal includes an audacious provision.
Lawmakers in Georgia are finalizing the details for approval of a bill, SB 458, which will make foreign passports unacceptable as identification documents for use with local government agencies.
“Secure and verifiable documents shall not include any foreign passport unless the passport is submitted with a valid United States Homeland Security Form I-94 or I-94A or other federal document specifying an alien's lawful immigration status,” says the proposed legislation.
In addition, the bill by state Senator Barry Loudermilk, a Republican, will prohibit undocumented immigrants from enrolling in public schools and universities.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, during hearings on the proposal, Sen. Loudermilk repeatedly consulted D.A. King, the President of the Dustin Inman Society, a Georgia-based organization 'dedicated to educating the public and our elected officials on the consequences of illegal immigration', and which in its website argues that “The obvious illegal immigration crisis is not a 'federal problem' -- it is a national problem.”
The new bill stems from a 2011 law -- HB 87 -- which was itself blocked in part by a federal judge. Under a surviving provision, “the state attorney general's office was charged with creating a list of 'secure and verifiable' documents that government agencies could accept if they require identification for an official purpose,” said the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The new legislation removes foreign passports from the approved list.
If their passports are not accepted as identification documents, immigrants without other forms of valid ID will be prevented from receiving marriage licenses or water services, among others.
The full House is expected to vote on the bill before Thursday. If approved by Republican Governor Nathan Deal, the law could go into effect on July 1.
The law was already approved by the state Senate and a House committee.
Governor Deal is a recognized and enthusiastic proponent of anti-immigrant legislation. As a member of the federal House of Representatives, in 2005, he authored House Resolution 698, which if approved would have imposed a new interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, preventing citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants. The 14th Amendment grants citizenship to anyone born in U.S. territory. The bill aimed “To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States of parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens.”
HR 698 died at the end of the 109th Congress when it adjourned without ever voting on the resolution.
California's Proposition 187 was submitted to the voters with the full support of then Republican governor Pete Wilson. It essentially blamed undocumented immigrants for the poor performance of the state economy in the early 1990s. The law called for cutting off benefits to undocumented immigrants: prohibiting their access to health care, public education, and other social services in California. It also required state authorities to report anyone who they suspected was undocumented. <strong>Status:</strong> The law passed with the support of 55 percent of the voters in 1994 but declared unconstitutional 1997. The law was killed in 1999 when a new governor, Democrat Gray Davis, refused to appeal a judicial decision that struck down most of the law. Even though short-lived, the legislation paved the way for harsher immigration laws to come. On the other hand, the strong reaction from the Hispanic community and immigration advocates propelled a drive for naturalization of legal residents and created as many as one million new voters.
The Arizona Act made it a misdemeanor for an undocumented immigrant to be within the state lines of Arizona without legal documents allowing their presence in the U.S. The law was widely criticized as xenophobic and for encouraging racial profiling. It required state authorities to inquire about an individual's immigration status during an arrest when there was "reasonable suspicion" that the individual was undocumented. The law would allow police to detain anyone who they believed was in the country illegally. <strong>Status:</strong> The law was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010, immediately generating a swirl of controversy and questions about its constitutionality. In July 2010 and February 2012, federal judges blocked different provisions of SB 1070, setting the stage for the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/sb1070-ruling-supreme-court_n_1614119.html" target="_hplink">the Supreme Court decision of June 25, 2012</a> which struck down multiple provisions but upheld the controversial "papers please" provision, a centerpiece of the law which critics say will lead to racial profiling
The controversy over Arizona's immigration law was followed by heated debate over Georgia's own law. HB 87 required government agencies and private companies to check the immigration status of applicants. This law also limited some government benefits to people who could prove their legal status. <strong>Status:</strong> Although a federal judge temporarily blocked parts of the law considered too extreme, it went into effect on July 1st. 2011. House: 113-56 Senate: 39-17
This bill, which was approved in 2010, bans contractors and subcontractors employ undocumented workers from having state construction contracts. The bill also protects employees who report construction sites that hire illegal workers. To ensure that contractors hire legal workers, the law requires employers to use the identification verification system E-verify, based on a compilation of legally issued Social Security numbers. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved on June 8th 2010. House: 188-6 (07/08/2010) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by DonkeyHotey</a>
Many states tried to emulate Arizona's SB 1070 law. However, most state legislatures voted against the proposals. Utah's legislature managed to approve an immigration law based on a different argument. Taking into consideration the criticism of racial profiling in Arizona, Utah required ID cards for "guest workers" and their families. In order to get such a card workers must pay a fee and have clean records. The fees go up to $2,500 for immigrants who entered the country illegally and $1,000 for immigrants who entered the country legally but were not complying with federal immigration law, <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/06/nation/la-na-illegal-immigration-20110306" target="_hplink">according to the LA Times.</a> <strong>Status: </strong> Law went into effect on 03/15/2011 House: 59-15 (03/04/2011) Senate: 22-5 (03/04/2011)
Florida's immigration law prohibits any restrictions on the enforcement of federal immigration law. It makes it unlawful for undocumented immigrants within the state to apply for work or work as an independent contractor. It forbids employers from hiring immigrants if they are aware of their illegal status and requires work applicants to go through the E-verify system in order to check their Social Security number. <strong>Status: </strong>effective since October 1st, 2010
The new immigration law in Alabama is considered the toughest in the land, even harder than Arizona's SB 1070. It prohibits law enforcement officers from releasing an arrested person before his or her immigration status is determined. It does not allow undocumented immigrants to receive any state benefit, and prohibits them from enrolling in public colleges, applying for work or soliciting work in a public space. The law also prohibits landlords from renting property to undocumented immigrants, and employers from hiring them. It requires residents to prove they are citizens before they become eligible to vote. The law asked every school in the state to submit an annual report with the number of presumed undocumented students, but this part, along with others, were suspended by federal courts. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved June 2nd, 2011 House: 73-28 (04/05/2011) Senate: 23-11 (05/05/2011) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/longislandwins/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by longislandwins</a>