Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Yesterday, the backers of Alabama’s “show me your papers” anti-immigrant law introduced new legislation to tweak, but not repeal, the state’s law. The following is a reaction to the new bill from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.

As was true in other conservative states this year, exit polls from the Alabama and Mississippi primaries show that the Republican electorate is not all riled up about the immigration issue. Few Alabama and Missisippi primary voters declared immigration to be their priority issue, while recent polling from Fox News Latino/Latin Insights continues to highlight the problem all leading GOP candidates face with Latino voters, due to their anti-immigrant, anti-Latino stances.

On a pre-primary press call, the day before the contentious Alabama GOP primary, immigrant reform experts and leaders from religious and immigrant youth communities shed light on the devastating toll that Alabama’s anti-immigration law (HB 56) has had on Latino families and warned of the role Alabama will play in the national elections this November.

The nation’s eyes are turning towards Alabama, as a series of developments with the state’s “show me your papers” anti-immigration law intersect with political dynamics surrounding the upcoming Republican presidential primary and general election.

National labor leaders have come out in strong opposition to Alabama’s “show me your papers” anti-immigration law, noting the disturbing parallels with Alabama’s civil rights history and calling on the state to repeal its divisive law.

Amidst a heated campaign to repeal Alabama’s “worst in the nation” anti-immigrant law, this year is the first time that the issue of immigration has been officially incorporated into the historic Selma to Montgomery, AL march to commemorate our nation’s struggle for civil and human rights. African American leaders have played a leading role in the campaign against HB 56 from the start. In October last year, Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, said that the Alabama anti-immigration law “combines some of the most heinous, vicious, inhumane Jim Crow legislation of the 1950s.”

As predicted, last night’s debate featured yet another feast of anti-immigrant rhetoric and no real solutions. Most notably, Mitt Romney took his pandering to new heights and praised Arizona’s “papers, please” law, SB 1070, as “a model” for the nation. We beg to differ. Arizona is a model for both bad policy and bad politics. As the general election draws closer, here are a few important takeaways voters should keep in mind as Arizona continues to secure its position as a battleground state this November...

As costs mount, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is asking a federal judge to consolidate legal challenges to the state’s “papers, please” immigration law, SB 1070. Brewer’s learning the hard way that when you attack the Constitution, civil society stands up to protect it.

The Republican Party’s embrace of anti-immigrant extremism was on full display this past weekend in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Among the loudest voices was none other than that of Kris Kobach, who is an endorser and advisor to Romney on immigration issues. Kobach is also the champion of the series of state-based anti-immigration laws in states such as Arizona and Alabama that show the real world consequences, costs, and impracticality of Romney’s stated “self-deportation” immigration policy goal.

As the Alabama state legislature begins its new legislative session today, the costs and consequences of the state’s “papers, please” anti-immigration law is the hottest political topic in the state. In light of the many controversies and unintended consequences related to the law’s provisions, including the sticker shock of up to $11 billion the law would cost the state’s GDP, changes to the immigration law are likely during the legislative session.

Mitt Romney has made “self-deportation” the cornerstone of his immigration policy approach. Romney’s immigration plan is ripped straight from the playbook of the anti-immigrant movement, especially Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is an unpaid Romney advisor on immigration matters. Kobach is the architect of a series of state-based laws in Alabama, Arizona, and elsewhere based on the “principle” of “self-deportation.” Now, a new cost-benefit analysis of Alabama’s “papers, please” anti-immigration law demonstrates the devastating economic toll incurred by the Romney/Kobach approach.

Today’s launch of the Iowa Compact charts a sensible course on immigration policy – a welcome contrast to the “papers, please” crackdowns passed in Arizona and Alabama, and the rhetoric dominating this issue among GOP 2012 presidential contenders. According to a raft of new polling, the sentiment behind the Compact is far more in line with the wishes of Iowans and other Americans across the ideological spectrum than the approach championed by most Republican presidential candidates.