Seth Hoy

Some States Attempt to Move Forward on Immigration Laws Following Supreme Court Decision

Prior to the Supreme Court’s recent decision on Arizona SB 1070, other states that passed immigration laws were also embroiled in complicated legal battles. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah all passed restrictive immigration laws, parts of which were challenged in court and subsequently enjoined pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, however, each state is now attempting to interpret that ruling in an effort to implement its immigration law.

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More and More States Introduce Costly Anti-Immigration Bills

Despite the devastating consequences of state immigration laws in Alabamaand Arizona, legislators in other states have introduced similar enforcement bills this year. Legislators in MississippiMissouriTennessee and Virginia introduced an array of costly immigration enforcement bills in their 2012 legislative sessions—some which are modeled on Arizona’s SB 1070. While study after study continues to document how these extreme state laws are costing state economies, disrupting entire industries and driving communities further underground, state legislators clearly aren’t getting the message.

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Progress? California Passes Second Half of Dream Act

While many applauded Governor Jerry Brown’s recent efforts to make college more affordable for all of California’s students, others insisted the state didn’t go far enough.

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Religious Groups Join Fight Against Harsh Arizona Immigration Law

With only weeks until Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law, HB 56, is slated to take effect (September 1), the coalition of groups challenging the law continues to grow. Shortly after Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed HB 56 in June, several civil rights groups—including the ACLU—filed a class action lawsuit against Alabama’s law. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit as well—much like it did against Arizona’s SB1070—in hopes of a receiving a preliminary injunction against key provisions of the law. This week, faith leaders in the state—who also filed suit against the law—added their voice to the chorus of civil rights, law enforcement, businesses, education, and international communities who vocally oppose the law.

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Can GOP Latino Group Convince Their Party that its Current Strategy on Immigration Spells Doom?

Over the weekend, a group of concerned Republican leaders gathered in Florida to discuss ways in which the GOP can repair their party’s muddied image among Hispanic voters. Participants at the Hispanic Leadership Network’s inaugural conference identified issues such as education, job creation and social values that could re-engage Hispanic voters who have been drifting away from the Republican Party at alarming rates. Other speakers, however, such as former Republican governor Jeb Bush and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, argued that softening the harsh rhetoric on immigration and supporting positive immigration reform could help restore Hispanics voters’ faith. This message runs counter to the plans of immigration hardliners like Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who by all reports plans to keep the focus on tough immigration enforcement in the House. And it’s not clear how well this “kinder, gentler” message will play with the nativist movement proposing restrictive enforcement legislation in the states. Unless there’s a hard stop to those strategies, it’s difficult to imagine how Republican can reestablish their party’s line of credit with Hispanic voters.

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GOPers Continue to Peddle Immigration Enforcement Conspiracy Theories

Despite a record number of removals in fiscal years 2010, GOP Senators Sessions, Cornyn, Kyl, Grassley, Hatch, Coburn and Graham fired off yet another letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday, accusing the administration of a “lax approach” to immigration enforcement and “selectively enforcing” immigration laws. The letter, which cites a Houston Chronicle article quoting nearly 400 dismissed removal cases in Houston immigration courts in recent months, follows new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) priorities of pursuing serious criminals and a countrywide systematic review of certain immigration court cases. The conservative Senators complaint, however, is not new. In fact, it’s just the latest in a string of letters accusing the administration of everything from “de facto amnesty” to giving detainees an “overly-comfortable place to reside.” The senators, it seems, are out for more than a fair, functioning and prioritized immigration enforcement system.

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Student DREAMs on Hold For Now

On Tuesday the Senate voted 56 to 43 against proceeding to the Defense Authorization Act (S. 3454). This procedural vote, which basically followed party lines, ends consideration of some critical social issues—offered as amendments—that affect the military. Among the amendments not considered were a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the DREAM Act, an immigration bill that would provide legal status to young people who graduate from high school and pursue college or military service. While Democrats blame Republicans for prioritizing procedure over policy and Republicans blame Democrats for trying to shore up the Latino vote before midterms, it’s the roughly 800,000 undocumented students who should blame Congress for its inability to legislate.

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Florida Lawmakers Of Both Parties Oppose Arizona-Type Legislation In Their State

Today, both Democratic and Republican Florida state legislators joined leaders from the faith and civil rights communities in speaking out against proposed anti-immigrant legislation in Florida, calling the measure “sad,” “not right for Florida,” and “a violation of civil rights.” The bill, introduced this month by Florida Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate, Bill McCollum, goes beyond existing state law and would require law enforcement to check the immigration status of a suspected illegal immigrant when stopped during a violation. The bill, drafted with state Rep. Will Snyder, also allows judges to consider immigration status during bond setting and sentencing and requires Florida businesses to check their workers’ immigration status. McCollum’s immigration bill also requires immigrants to carry identification or face up to 20 days in jail. According to McCollum, Florida’s bill “offers more teeth” and goes “one step beyond” Arizona’s law, after which Florida’s bill was modeled.

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Anti-Immigrant Fervor Will Cost Repbublicans Latino Vote for a Long Time to Come

As anti-immigrant fervor continues to swirl in the headlines, it’s not difficult for readers to discern who’s stirring the pot. Over the weekend, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) became the latest GOPer to publically support the effort to end birthright citizenship -- an effort that seeks to repeal the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Last month, immigration reformers-turned-hawks, Arizona Republican Senators McCain and Kyl as well as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), also jumped on the birthright bandwagon. Couple this recent effort with Arizona’s “show me your papers” law saga and months of punditry and restrictionist rhetoric on enforcement and you have a hostile GOP narrative of exclusion and anti-immigration hysteria -- which as some point out, is a political recipe for disaster come election time.

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Republicans Putting on 14th Amendment Dog and Pony Show

Over the weekend, the second-ranking member of the Senate Republican leadership, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) joined Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in considering a repeal of birthright citizenship laws through a constitutional amendment. Birthright citizenship, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, is the cornerstone of American civil rights and affirms that, with very few exceptions, all persons born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens—regardless of their parents’ citizenship. Although the Supreme Court has consistently upheld birthright citizenship, year afteryear restrictionist groups and legislators trot out the “repeal birthright citizenship” mantra in the hopes of adding a few more immigration extremists to their dog and pony show audience.

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