Musings on Immigration

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Why Smart State Legislatures Are NOT Passing Immigration Bills

We all read that the Arizona legislature has had its fill of anti-immigrant legislation, backing off passing any of the unconstitutional, anti-immigrant legislation proposed by immigrant basher-in-chief State Senator Russell Pearce. Now Kansas, home to the author of all of this anti-immigrant legislation, Kris Kobach, is the latest state to "just say no" to immigrant bashing legislation. We know why the Arizona legislature decided to not enact their most recent proposals--the Arizona economy has been devastated by SB 1070 passed last year, and the business community finally had enough--hand delivering a letter to each state legislator saying to stop the immigrant bashing.

In Kansas, a coalition of forces, including business leaders, community leaders, law professors, and religious leaders joined forces to point out ALL of the legitimate reasons why anti-immigrant legislation was tabled this week. The Kansas Business Coalition, lead by AILA member Allie Devine, is a group of twenty trade groups that was committed to defeating the bill. AILA members Angela Ferguson and Anthony Weigel,volunteered to help the Coalition with legal research, general immigration information, and background on other state’s efforts. AILA members also worked closely with Immigrant and Civil Rights Interest Groups to coordinate resources and key legislative contacts.

As Anthony Weigel, an AILA member and vocal opponent of this legislation noted:

There were three valid reasons for the bill’s failure. First, proponents failed to provide a financial impact estimate worth considering. Kentucky, a comparable state, estimated a net cost of $40 million for a similar bill. Second, succinct and persuasive evidence was presented by a UMKC law professor that the bill involved an incredibly unsettled area of the law, federal preemption, and the risk and costs of litigation could be avoided by not proceeding with the bill at this time. And third, as stated by the Kansas Business Coalition, if simple solutions existed, we wouldn’t have today’s problems.

Kansas has now joined Colorado, Nebraska and even Arizona in tabling these anti-immigration provisions. Kentucky has put the cost of its Arizona style bill (which is much like Georgias) at least at $40 million (and perhaps as much as $90 million dollars)! Look for that bill to die a quick death shortly.

Georgia legislators should take a clue from all of the national movement AGAINST state based anti-immigrant legislation by their colleagues in other legislators. In Georgia, united groups in the business community, religious leaders, legal scholars and lawyers, as well as community groups from throughout the political spectrum oppose HB 87 and SB 40. Governor Deal has noted his concern with this legislation. How can Georgia legislators continue to push for a bill that will create more problems then it can hope to cure? And that they know will cost the state a fortune to enact and defend in court?

We already know that the Georgia House sponsors of HB 87 are incapable of giving the legal reasons why their legislation is not unconstitional, and that they refuse to discuss the real and quite savage economic impact of this bill on the Georgia economy should it pass. So, why is this bill moving forward? We still need the business community, through the Chambers of Commerce, to speak out publicly, vocally and loudly and demand a stop to this nonsense. While it is clear that business prefers to work quietly and behind the scenes with state legislators, it is also clear from what has happened in Arizona and Kansas that unless the business community starts getting VOCAL about their opposition to these bills (and not just because E-Verify is burdensome), then the march to litigation will proceed (I say this because if Georgia passes any anti-immigrant legislation lawsuits will be filed against their enforcement on preemption and constitutional grounds.)

Let's take the lessons learned in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Kentucky, and Kansas. Let's work together as businesses, faith based organizations, community supported advocacy groups, and people who know and love immigrants for who they are--good people who make America stronger and better. Georgia is better than HB 87 and SB 40.

Broken immigration laws do not mean Broken People.

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