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Hard-Line Immigration Policies Getting Shot Down by State After State

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This post is by Suman Raghunathan of the Progressive States Network:

In the wake of AZ SB 1070’s passage in late April, a  far right network of groups and legislators announced plans to move bills in state around the country.  But the list of states rejecting those bills continues to grow and efforts to get anti-immigrant proposals on the ballot continue to fail.

Ballot Initiatives Fail in Nevada and Arkansas: The latest state to join this list is Nevada, where Assemblyman Chad Christensen’s effort to gather signatures for an anti-immigrant ballot initiative similar to Arizona’s recently  faltered in the face of a lawsuit.  Christensen’s effort was challenged by the Nevada Open For Business Coalition, a  group that includes State Assemblymen Mo Denis and Ruben Kihuen as well as the  Nevada Resort Association, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce, and the  NAACP.  The coalition is also working with the Las Vegas Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.  The delay caused by the Coalition's multiple  legal challenges caused Christensen, who recently lost a June 8 US Senate Primary, to  drop his petition rather than attempt to get his broad anti-immigrant proposal on the ballot.

In Arkansas, the anti-immigrant group Secure Arkansas also  failed to get its anti-immigrant proposal (which simply re-iterated existing federal law by seeking to bar undocumented immigrants over the age of 14 from receiving public assistance) on the November 2010 ballot.  Secretary of State Charlie Daniels  rejected the group’s petition after finding they were nearly 10,000 signatures below the minimum required to appear on the ballot.

Anti-Immigrant Legislation Defeated or Blocked in Multiple States: In both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, state leadership refused to allow anti-immigrant legislation to gain traction.  In Massachusetts, twenty-seven pages of anti-immigrant budget amendments that resembled Arizona's SB1070 was shot down and ultimately  approved as a final bill which simply restated existing federal bars on undocumented immigrants accessing public benefits, and included no new anti-immigrant provisions.

Rhode Island’s anti-immigrant bill, introduced by conservative Democrat State Representative Peter Palumbo, did not even receive a public hearing earlier this summer:  the bill was ‘ killed’ by House Speaker Gordon Fox, who voiced his  opposition to the bill and reiterated that enforcing immigration laws remains the responsibility of the federal government.

And in Kansas,  when a conservative legislator sought to attach an Arizona-style anti-immigrant amendment to the state budget, Kansas Representative Delia Garcia  challenged its late introduction on procedural grounds and the Republican chair of the chamber's Rules Committee ruled the amendment out of order.

Most High-Immigration States Have Taken a Positive Approach to Integrate New Immigrants: As  PSN detailed in a 2008 report, only 11% of undocumented immigrants live in states that have enacted comprehensive punitive anti-immigrant policies.  Far more states promote  positive integration policies and believe leaving immigration enforcement policy to the federal government is the best approach.

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