I thought you might appreciate this from our exclusive Spar & Bernstein AP Newsfeed this morning:
PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona legislators took a timeout from illegal immigration with the Senate easily defeating five related bills, reflecting little appetite for an issue that made the state the focus of national debate and protest last year.
Majority Republicans were split Thursday in their votes on the defeated bills, which included two measures intended to force a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against automatic citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. The other three dealt with health care, public services and everyday activities such as driving.
Supporters of the measures voiced frustration and said there could be political fallout for lawmakers who voted against them.
“The lack of political courage” is the only impediment to step up pressure on illegal immigration, said Republican Sen. Russell Pearce, the sponsor of the 2010 law.
But business leaders have been urging lawmakers to put the issue aside to avoid damaging the still-ailing economy. The 2010 law known as SB1070 resulted in protests, boycotts and legal challenges. A federal judge has put key provisions on hold.
“It’s time for us to take a timeout,” said Republican Sen. John McComish of Phoenix. “It’s something that the people don’t want us to be focusing on.” Critics also said the bills rejected Thursday were over-reaching and flawed.
The two bills on citizenship were defeated on votes of 12-18 and 11-19 as majority Republicans split on the issue. The chamber’s nine Democrats voted against all of the bills. “I’m hopeful that now we can move on and focus on the business of the state,” Democratic Minority Leader David Schapira of Tempe said after the three-hour floor session.
One of the rejected bills would have required hospitals to contact federal immigration officials or local law enforcement if people being treated lack insurance and can’t demonstrate legal status.
Critics said that would burden hospitals, but Republican Sen. Steve Smith of Maricopa said his bill didn’t require much.
“Maybe you forgot it’s illegal to be in this country illegally,” he said during the vote on his bill. “We just ask them to report the crime, not be the judge and executioner.”
Also defeated was a bill to require schools to file reports on enrollments of illegal immigrant students.
The fifth bill was a sweeping measure sponsored by Pearce. It would have made it a crime for illegal immigrants to drive in Arizona. It also had provisions on registering vehicles, workplace hiring and various public benefits.
It would ban illegal immigrants from attending Arizona’s public universities and community colleges. The state does not now have a ban but it does require illegal immigrants to pay higher, non-resident tuition rates.
Pearce’s bill also would have required eviction of public housing tenants who let illegal immigrants live with them and make applicants for vehicle titles and registration prove they are in the country legally.
Pearce and other supporters said cracking down on illegal immigration would provide relief to taxpayers by cutting costs for education, health care and other services.
Earlier Thursday, Gov. Jan Brewer said she didn’t have positions on the bills and she declined to wave off legislators from taking up the issue of illegal immigration again.
“I believe that illegal immigration is an important subject to the populace in Arizona and is something that probably needs to be further addressed,” said Brewer, a Republican who signed SB1070 into law.
Dozens of CEOs of major employers and business groups signed a letter distributed Wednesday by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, saying that passage of additional legislation on illegal immigration would damage the economy and tourism.
Arizona should instead push for federal action on immigration and border issues, according to the letter signed by heads of construction companies, hospitals, real estate developers and US Airways.
“Arizona’s lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration,” the letter said. “But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur.”
Like many states these days, Georgia is trying to do what our federal government is seemingly unable to do: develop and passed an immigration reform bill. So this week the Georgia House has passed their version of immigration reform and the bill now moves onto the Georgia Senate.
This really bugs me for more than just the fact the our federal government has dropped the ball on immigration reform. What is really disturbing is that despite the judicial rebuke that Arizona suffered last year for passing their own immigration bill, states like George have all but ignored the Constitutional implications. State mandated immigration reform is outside the purview of the states…it’s clearly a federal issue. Nonetheless, the states have conveniently ignored that and are moving to do what the feds can’t.
As I’ve said many times before in this blog, immigration is a NATIONAL POLICY ISSUE, not to be created and stitched together by 50 individual states. What if we ran our federal tax system on the basis of what each individual state thought was best? It would be a nightmare (although I’m sure many would argue that it would be a good idea even though it isn’t).
The nightmare for our economy is for the employers, and especially multi-state employers…who have to figure out how to comply with immigration laws on both the federal and state levels.
You just can’t make this stuff up…it’s just unbelievable that our state legislators can be so ignorant of their actions.
What do you think?
With the advent of the federal electronic verification system, known as E-Verify, the feds are working hard to get every business using the system as a way to comply with immigration laws when hiring new employees. E-Verify is an idea that misses the mark on helping to solve the real issue here: immigration reform.
I want you to read the following, provided by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):
As the House Immigration Subcommittee prepares for its hearing, “E-Verify- Preserving Jobs for American Workers,” the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) calls upon Congress to tell Americans the full story of the flawed electronic employment verification system. Any expansion of this system will burden U.S. employers, waste time and taxpayer resources, and slow the nation’s economic recovery. The Congressional Budget Office reported that implementing mandatory E-Verify would cost American taxpayers as much as $3 billion over five years.
AILA President David Leopold said, “The new Congress should be focused on America’s economic recovery. Expanding mandatory E-Verify would threaten the jobs of thousands of U.S. citizens and saddle U.S. businesses with additional costs-all at a time when we need to stimulate our economy. Expanding E-Verify now would be in direct contradiction to the goal of creating jobs.”
AILA supports American workers and the integrity of our workforce. Executive Director Crystal Williams asserted, “But E-Verify alone does not make workers legal. Only a viable immigration system does that.”
“Once again, Congress is missing the point. We can’t enforce our way out of a broken immigration system. What we need are solutions. Congress should consider a broad approach to immigration. Smart immigration policies that include a pathway to compliance for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S. would add billions of dollars to the economy and raise the wages of all American workers,” said Leopold.
E-Verify sounds like a great idea…on paper. Once again, it’s a band-aid to the real solution of national immigration reform.
CNN recently noted that among many immigration reform bills floating around the Texas legislature, one bill contained a surprising loophole for illegal immigrants.
The bill (House Bill 2012), introduced by Texas State Republican Debbie Riddle, makes an exception for hiring unauthorized immigrants “for the purpose of obtaining labor or other work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence.”
According to CNN, “As proposed, House Bill 2012 would create tough state punishments for those who ‘intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly’ hire an unauthorized immigrant. Violators could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.”
It’s a remarkable exception to a supposedly tough immigration bill. However, if you understand the economics behind the exception, it all begins to make sense.
Texans, like many others around our land, openly hire unauthorized immigrants to do jobs that most Americans shun. That would include things like landscaping or housework. More often than not, hiring for these kinds of positions goes on all around the U.S. everyday. It’s so common that most overlook it or turn-the-other-cheek as they say.
This kind of unauthorized hiring is built into our economy and is no small piece of change. These unauthorized immigrants that work hard and earn a living here also spend that money here (yes, they do send a part of it home but much it gets spent here).
However lame it might look for those who want ‘tough’ immigration laws, this bill at least has some logic to it and acknowledges the economic realities of real life in America today.
It’s also quite possible that the author of this Texas bill realized that some of her colleagues probably hired an unauthorized immigrant or two at one time or another.