States Might Jump Off Arizona’s Immigration Bandwagon

immigrtion push and pullFollowing the district court’s ruling enjoining the most controversial provisions of SB 1070 last week, some states are now deciding whether or not to move forward with their own version of Arizona’s immigration legislation—or are at least considering dumping the Arizona-style provisions that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton temporarily halted. Currently, 22 states have introduced or are considering introducing similar legislation. State legislators are citing fear of costly lawsuits and a charged political environment in which restrictive immigration legislation might not pass as factors in their decision. The city of Fremont, Nebraska, for example, recently halted the enforcement of its enforcement legislation (which prohibits the hiring of or renting to undocumented immigrants) in the face of legal challenges from civil rights groups.

In Ohio, state representative Courtney Combs (R-Hamilton) is revising Ohio’s version of Arizona’s law to avoid potential lawsuits:

Filing an Arizona-style bill “would be wasting taxpayers’ money,” Combs says. “I think we need to make sure that we comply with what the federal courts come up with.”

Similarly, Idaho’s state senator, Robert Geddes, is editing out the enjoined provisions Judge Bolton halted last week:

“I don’t know that we would cut and paste exactly what Arizona has, based on what the judge has already ruled,” Geddes says. “That doesn’t help us much to engage in the same battle that Arizona has lost.”

deportationIn Fremont, Nebraska—where residents fought a two-year battle with the city to pass an ordinance that requires businesses to verify employees’ immigration status and renters to apply for an occupancy license—the city council recently delayed enforcement of the ordinance just days before it was scheduled to go into effect. City Council President, Scott Getzschman, cited scant city resources and legal challenges as reasons for the delayed enforcement:

“Given the size of our city, we will make a decision based on the best interest of the citizens of Fremont. As we evaluate legal challenges ahead, we need to look at our resources carefully,” Getzschman said.

Coming out of the recession, many states are facing budget deficits and cannot afford the hefty expenses and fees brought on by legal challenges. According to a reportby Immigration Policy Center, Farmers Branch, Texas has already spent about $3.2 million to defend itself since September 2006, when it launched the first of three immigration ordinances. Similarly, Hazleton, Pennsylvania’s insurance carrier is asking a federal judge to rule that it is not responsible for nearly $2.4 million in attorney fees being sought by the plaintiffs who successfully challenged the city s Illegal Immigration Relief Act.

seth hoy
While some states will undoubtedly move forward with the introduction of new immigration enforcement measures, the district court’s ruling on SB 1070 is at least making other states pause and consider the large costs and political consequencesassociated with enforcing restrictive immigration laws. Whether or not state legislators realize that a patchwork of state immigration policy does nothing to actually solve immigration problems on a national scale remains to be seen.

Seth Hoy

Republished with permission from Immigration Impact.


  1. Marshall says

    You wrote a lot but said little about any cures for the problem. I have lived in several places that had a simular problem. Well close, the three places other than Texas where I lived on the border and people were trying to get in, had a problem with people trying to get out. The local police just shot them and then cleaned up the mess. I know it is not something we would do and none of our citizens are sneaking out of the country, they use a border crossing. Can you just think of the results if we contracted out the border security to the Russians? Things would really be different.

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