WASHINGTON - The status of state immigration laws is murky and states have taken on the issue because the U.S. federal government refuses to do so, some lawmakers say.
A year ago this week Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a controversial immigration bill. Meanwhile, as states near the end of their 2011 legislative sessions, immigration remains a hot-button issue, USA Today reported.
"It just speaks to the complexity of the issues and of the folly of single states thinking they can take it on alone," said Angela Kelley of the Center for American Progress, a group which opposes Arizona-style laws.
State lawmakers said they're forced to take on immigration because the federal government won't do its part.
President Barack Obama met with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and others to discuss federal immigration laws.
A Georgia immigration bill, S.B. 1070, has many similarities to the Arizona law. It requires state police officers to determine the immigration status of people stopped for another violation if there is a "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the United States illegally.
Opponents of the Georgia law say it will be ruled unconstitutional.
"It doesn't represent what Georgia could be all about and it's really a shame," said Jerry Gonzalez, of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.
An immigration field coordinator for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group, said she's surprised more states haven't passed Arizona-style immigration laws this year.
Immigration laws in Colorado, Mississippi, South Dakota and Nebraska have died or failed to advance through state legislatures, the report said.