Americas & Beyond
|US States Hard on Immigration|
Tim Gaynor - Reuters
go to original
January 06, 2011
Phoenix – Republican state legislatures are ramping up a crackdown on illegal immigrants this year, in a concerted drive that risks alienating potential business allies and Latino voters.
At least seven states are expected to follow Arizona’s controversial push last year to curb illegal immigration. And more than a dozen are harmonizing efforts to cancel birthright citizenship for the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.
Lawmakers say the cooperation is unprecedented and responds to a failure by Washington to secure the Mexico border and address the status of nearly 11 million illegal immigrants living in the shadows.
“The federal government has absolutely, totally and completely fallen down on its responsibility of protecting our nation’s borders,” said Randy Terrill, an Oklahoma Republican who is pushing immigration-related laws in the coming year.
The state push follows sweeping gains for Republicans in the November elections which gave them control of the U.S. House of Representatives and a stronger hand in the Senate, as well as their broadest showing at the state level in decades.
Seven states, including Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee, say they will push measures similar to Arizona’s immigration law.
Arizona would have required state and local police to investigate the immigration status of anyone they suspected was in the country illegally, but a federal judge voided parts of the law before it took effect in July.
In a sign of growing cooperation on immigration issues, at least 14 states are working together on a shared legislative framework to challenge automatic U.S. citizenship for children born to illegal immigrant parents, which is grounded in the 14th amendment to the Constitution.
“What we’re doing together on the illegal alien issue is unprecedented and is historic,” said Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican state lawmaker from Pennsylvania.
President Barack Obama promised to push for an immigration overhaul, boosting border security and offering steps to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants, but Democrats failed to gain traction in the last Congress.
Republicans taking majority control of the House of Representatives on Wednesday are likely to focus on tightening enforcement and limiting immigration, analysts said.
The concerted crackdown on illegal immigrants will likely win support from conservative Republicans, some independents and even Democrats, analysts say, but could risk alienating Latino voters and some in the business community.