Ever since SB1070 passed through the state legislature in Arizona, aspiring politicians and elected officials have jumped on the rhetorical bandwagon, promising similar legislation in their own states—no matter what the political or fiscal costs. No other state has actually passed copycat legislation, but many have made attempts and overtures towards that end. While observers are waiting to see how far states are willing to go in wrestling control over immigration away from the federal government and into their own hands, nothing will be certain until after next Tuesday’s election. It’s likely some are levying harsh immigration legislation purely as election-time talking points, but there are others who seem to have a bone to pick with immigrants and will likely stake their careers on the pursuit of “attrition through enforcement.”
Immigration Works USA has compiled a detailed analysis of which states are likely to pursue SB1070 legislation in the coming year. In their report, To Copy or Not To Copy? State Lawmaking on Immigration after SB1070 they have designated states as either “Danger List,” “Maybe, Maybe Not” or “Less Likely.” The report includes a summary of anecdotal state evidence to give readers a sense of why some states are veering dangerously close to becoming the next Arizona while others are more “bark than bite.”
Those the authors consider most in danger of becoming a “papers please” state are Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. They placed 14 other states on their “Maybe” list and 7 on their “Less Likely” list. This brings us to a total of 25 states to keep an eye on in the coming year.
As a coalition leader of business groups, it’s apropos that Immigration Works USA also includes an explanation of why these kinds of state laws are bad for business in the report. Drops in tourism revenues and booking inquiries along with the general controversy that SB1070 brought to the state, are a few reasons they give for avoiding an SB1070-style path to economic ruin. Hopefully as candidates turn away from electioneering to governing they will move back to a reasonable position on immigration and find a sensible way forward that is good for communities, as of course, business.
Photo by NinJA999.