published Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

States’ immigration efforts fizzle

Protestors shout and hold signs outside the Georgia State Capitol after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an immigration bill in Atlanta. Nearly every state in the union decided to tackle immigration on its own this year in the absence of any federal action on the issue. But an Associated Press review of the data found that as of Wednesday nearly all of the punitive measures failed.  (AP Photo/Tami Chappell, File)
Protestors shout and hold signs outside the Georgia State Capitol after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an immigration bill in Atlanta. Nearly every state in the union decided to tackle immigration on its own this year in the absence of any federal action on the issue. But an Associated Press review of the data found that as of Wednesday nearly all of the punitive measures failed. (AP Photo/Tami Chappell, File)


AP Hispanic Affairs Writer

MIAMI — Nearly every state in the union tried to tackle immigration on its own this year in the absence of any congressional movement on the matter, and more than half considered Arizona-style enforcement measures, up from just six in 2010.

But an Associated Press review found that in legislature after legislature, nearly all the most punitive measures failed.

What had passed as of Monday mostly reinforced current federal law, though a small number of states actually passed legislation that was helpful to illegal immigrants.

Many measures were set aside so lawmakers could focus on pressing budget crises, but immigrants have also developed more sophisticated lobbying efforts, and business owners came out strongly against tougher sanctions. Some worried about losing sources of labor and gaining extra paperwork. Others feared tourism boycotts like the one organized against Arizona.

Early in the year, high unemployment, a slew of newly Republican-dominated legislatures and nationwide frustration over the failure by the White House or Congress to address the problem suggested Arizona’s law would be copied.

That law makes it a state crime for an illegal immigrant to work, penalizes employers who hire them and encourages local authorities to turn over illegal immigrants to federal authorities, among other measures. An appellate court has blocked provisions that require immigrants carry visa documents and allow police broad leeway to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.

Louisiana State Rep. Joe Harrison, a Republican, said federal inaction prompted his interest in state laws on immigration.

“I’m just trying to give them a little Taser move in the right direction,” he said.

But Harrison’s bill has yet to move out of committee, and most of the others failed, as did most of the proposals requiring businesses to use the federal government’s electronic E-verify system to check the eligibility of new hires. Only a few states made any serious attempt to crack down on employers.

So far, only Georgia and Utah have passed comprehensive bills. South Carolina and Alabama are still considering them. Utah’s law includes a provision to allow illegal immigrants to work in the state, and the American Civil Liberties Union has already sued Utah over the law’s enforcement provisions.

Georgia was the shining example for those hoping to step up enforcement and the closest to Arizona. Its new law allows local officers to check the immigration status of a suspect who can’t produce an accepted form of ID. It also includes a provision requiring employers with more than 10 employees to use E-Verify by July 2013, similar to a 2007 law Arizona. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill earlier this month and opponents say they plan to sue the state.

Following the failure of the recent Dream Act in Washington — which would have provided a path to legalization for qualified illegal immigrant students and other young adults — several states adopted legislation this session that helps illegal immigrant students. Maryland approved in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, Illinois is likely to set up a private scholarship fund for them, and Connecticut expanded in-state tuition for graduate school. An in-state tuition bill in Oregon passed the Senate but has yet to reach the House floor.

Arizona lawmakers ordered school districts to report students’ residency, but that was geared toward keeping children who live across the Mexican border from enrolling in Arizona schools.

Only Indiana passed a law to prohibit in-state tuition for those in the country illegally, a largely symbolic move.

Most legislation never gets out of committee, and compromise is always key.

But experts on both sides credit businesses for much of the legislations’ failure.

“Business owners came out of the woodwork in a way they hadn’t done before,” said Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a national federation of mostly small-business owners who support immigration reform.

Many Florida businesses said they feared the economic damage that would be caused if the state were hit by a tourism boycott like the one immigrant rights groups organized against Arizona.

In Arizona, 60 top executives signed a letter to Arizona’s Senate president, asking for a moratorium on immigration bills.

Indianapolis-based drug maker Eli Lilly was among those who publicly opposed an Arizona-style bill. Last week, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law more modest bills: the in-state tuition ban and an end to tax credits for companies that hire illegal immigrants.

In Utah, businesses helped create the Utah Compact, the basis for the most comprehensive immigration law to come out of the states. It resembles Arizona on enforcement but allows illegal immigrants to work in Utah. A judge blocked the bill last week, following the ACLU lawsuit.

Jacoby acknowledged many businesses particularly opposed E-verify.

Indeed, in Florida, the House and Senate couldn’t reach a compromise on the E-verify component, and the proposals died. The Indiana and Alabama legislatures faced similar splits between their House and Senate over measures targeting employers.

Jacoby said it was the Arizona-like enforcement sections of the bills that generated the attention and public debate, and that in many states, E-verify went down along with them.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates stricter limits on immigration, believes many businesses concerned about E-verify cynically stoked opposition to the bills by emphasizing the enforcement angle.

“The businesses community really did pull out all the stops on this, and I have to give them props,” Krikorian said. “The strategy was to make a big deal about Arizona-style legislation in order to scare off E-verify.”

Immigrants and their supporters were also ready to battle, capitalizing on networks they developed in recent years in response to Arizona’s law and the federal government’s stepped-up deportation efforts.

In Florida, farmworkers, students and other immigrants and activists spent weeks at the Capitol, protesting and praying during committee hearings but also lobbying heavily behind the scenes.

In Kansas, they quickly spread a YouTube clip of Republican State Rep. Virgil Peck likening illegal immigrants to feral hogs, generating a swift backlash nationwide that helped doom bills there.

The progressive Latino group Democracia USA took out ads against proposals in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Florida. President Jorge Mursuli said backers of some state bills couldn’t answer basic questions about the legislation, such as whether families hiring nannies would have to use E-verify, or whether employers would be on the hook for unemployment insurance for new hires found ineligible to work.

“A lot of folks were doing this as a political stunt, rather than as a real policy effort,” he said.

Still, those itching for action in Washington may get their wish. Immigration groups and those who support enforcement-only measures say they will redouble lobbying efforts at the federal level. Last week, Democratic senators in Washington reintroduced the Dream Act, though it’s unlikely to pass the Republican-led House, and certainly not before the 2012 election.

President Barack Obama also gave his second speech in two weeks on immigration.

Krikorian noted the Supreme Court will soon rule on the constitutionality of a 2007 Arizona law that mandated all companies there use E-verify. If that law is upheld, he believes other states will again follow Arizona’s lead.

“Then the game isn’t over,” he said.


Associated Press writers Josh Loftin in Salt Lake City, Kate Brumback in Atlanta, Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis, Molly Davis in Baton Rouge, La., and Roger Alford in Frankfort, Ky., contributed to this report.

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Love the story TFP, very informative! The immigration battle is very hard when there are so many components to consider and I'm glad law makers aren't jumping the gun to rush legislation. On the other hand it's about time this country really looks at immigration on all sides of the arguments although I don't agree with Arizona's actions. Ever seen the movie Machete? The movie is over dramatized for affect BUT all the main racial elements of the movie are very realistic in the way that illegal’s are treated and looked upon, it's sad.

May 24, 2011 at 8 a.m.
Brittanicus said...


Strange that those Georgia farmers are not saying that when an illegal worker falls sick; he transports him/her to the emergency room? This could be the same crisis that would hit Utah, if the Guest Worker program materialized in the Mormon State? That means his liability to the sick/injured Guest Worker is void and becomes the financial burden of the US taxpayer whilst the hospital passes on the fee. Then we have the children of the agricultural workers who taxpayers are forced by the judiciary to support their education. Then under the 14th amendment a female when a baby is born becomes an instant citizen collecting cash payments, food stamps low income housing and free natal care. All this cost is assumed from your taxes and is in the hundreds of billions a year. Outside of farm workers are the economic illegal aliens who come here to have their babies, and place an unimaginable strain on our schooling system. But this is just part of the layers upon layers of foreigners, who are indirectly stealing tax payer’s money.

Another great fraudulent game is illegal nationals, paying nothing into the tax system, but collecting up to $5,600 dollars per household. More than one in four immigrant households received the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2009—nearly twice the 13.2 percent rate of households headed by Native Americans. And since immigrant households are larger (primarily because of higher fertility rate), their EITC payments are larger than those received by citizens and naturalized citizen households. “The Earned Income Tax Credit and Illegal Immigration: A Study in Fraud, Abuse, and Liberal Activism”, by financial analyst and economist Edwin Rubenstein. This is not a myth, but fact about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the largest anti-poverty program in the United States, which is the “most illegal-immigrant friendly," explains Edwin Rubenstein, author of the new report."

In 2007, more than 23 million households received more than $47 billion in the EITC payments." He Rubenstein said “between one-quarter to one-third of all EITC claims are 'improperly paid' according to the General Accounting Office. The EITC - like most of the tax code, operates on the honor system. The U.S. Congress allows and supports one of the most fraudulent taxpayer misuse schemes ever conceived within the Federal Government.

May 24, 2011 at 5:13 p.m.
Brittanicus said...

It’s time the administration eradicated this program, allowing millions of aliens who to entered American soil, while draining billions out of the United States Treasury. Tax relief" goes to people who never paid a cent in taxes, and may have already defrauded the government of huge sums each year. Bring this abuse to the attention of your Federal, State politicians about this fraud which illegal aliens are stealing from you. Expenditures of more than $55 billion per year, is a combination of EITC spending that is associated with traditional welfare programs.

I watched a meeting of the Cato Institute on C-Span, which slurred Bloggers like me, saying that illegal workers were an economical benefit to America? Frank Sherry should be asked about Earned Income tax credit and try to deny it? No person, celebrity or anyone else has a right to complain, as we have more legal immigration than any other part of the world, that includes seven secret amnesties since the 1986 (ICRA.) As for illegal aliens, that if the aroused TEA PARTY has anything to do with it, no Amnesty will ever be passed. All we are doing now is importing more poverty for taxpayers to contend with?

The border remains open for more criminals to cross over, as areas around lakes in Texas, places along the Rio Grande, where there are examination foot traffic bridges that still is unsecured. Hundreds of miles are still simple barbed wire fences fallen into disrepair and keeps no marauder of our sovereign land? If Congress intended to stop these invaders, they would not only have made it a--FELONY-- to enter; same as Mexico, but would have constructed the double-fence as enacted in the 2006 Secure Fence Act. It would have restricted the endless criminals, as it would have been adorned with razor wire. EVEN THE SINGLE LINE FENCE IS NOT COMPLETED FOR THE SEVEN HUNDRED MILES. ITS ALL ONE BIG SICK JOKE BY BOTH PARTIES, ON THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS?

The Liberal wing of Democrats are trying to drive a wedge between Hispanics and the General population, But the plain fact is that there are millions of legalized and multi-generations of Hispanic citizens, who wish to disassociate themselves from South of the border. Equally abhorrent are overstays recognized to be 40 percent of the illegal occupation. If Mexico and other countries has a way of tracking arrivals through ports of entry, by plane, ship or even over the Canadian border, why is this not implemented by Homeland Security and ICE? Hispanic and honest legalized immigrants are cordially welcome to join the TEA PARTY.

May 24, 2011 at 5:15 p.m.
Brittanicus said...

It’s more important than ever to join the PEOPLES party, the TEA PARTY. The Tea Party is for all legal Americans, naturalized citizens and those holding green cards. Offend or please! Americans must dissolve the power mongers influence and open border nuts in Washington. The monolithic Tea Party will vote them out in the next election, or we will continue the US path of financial disintegration. This un-American movement will not be tolerated, and should never be ratified without a national referendum. Our country is a nation of laws, especially when it comes to integration of other countries. Currently the Democrats desire to force on—ALL—the American peoples a new Amnesty, cloaked in Immigration Reform. Indirectly the Dream Act would have the same purpose, allowing these Students to sponsor family members. Chain Migration is already accelerating and costing Americans billions of dollars a year. Sanctuary states are another enigma, which is about sheltering foreign nationals which is California's and Nevada's cross to bare.

America has plunged into a 14.5 Trillion dollar deficit and is seemingly on the edge of a devastating future, unless we start not only combating illegal immigration that we can no longer subsidize or we become a peons of China and other countries that own our debt. We have little we can do about the illegal immigration until the US government honors its commitment to defend our borders. Congress must implement E-Verify as a mandated business policing problem. And every individual who is arrested must be fingerprinted according to the”Secure Communities" program and forwarded to ICE.

It’s regrettable we don’t follow the same laws as countries in Europe, which is using a “Points-System” for legal immigration. Offering entry visas to the extremely skilled people with profession knowledge in their specialized occupation, as they will not end up in the welfare offices? Many of these people live under primitive circumstances, so saving their wages; sending according to a banking report 46 billion dollars out of America. Every day, the US grows inferior because our senators and congressmen, and corporations, are aiding and abetting, encouraging illegal alien migration into our country. A recent statistic by Visa banking card confirmed wire transfers to Mexico last year reached $40 billion, to South America 25 billion and the Orient 15 Billion dollars in wire transfers.

May 24, 2011 at 5:15 p.m.
Brittanicus said...

The 1986 Amnesty cost taxpayers 76 billion dollars. A new immigration reorganization package will outlay an astronomical figure, which comes out your pockets. Even scarier is supporting the illegal alien household that has already settled here? Some say 12 million, but most non-profit sovereignty groups say it’s over 20 million and counting? Can we afford subsidizing the farming community anymore, as they pay nothing in benefits and small living wage? No health care and we pay their children's schooling. Temporary Guest Worker programs are rampant with deceit, as all special visas for hires. It unquestionably makes no logical sense when 15 million Americans cannot find a job? We just cannot be the emergency room care or education privileges for the rest of humankind, anymore. Another major issue is foreigners voting in only-for-citizens election. This is no longer an isolated issue and States nationwide, need to enact stringent rules that includes showing picture ID to prove they are legally able to vote? Join the Tea Party and also ply your representatives in Washington, State or even local level for answers?

Contact them at Senate—202-224–3121/ House—202-225–3121.

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May 24, 2011 at 5:16 p.m.
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