Posted by Aaron Gregg, civilrights.org
As Arizona's anti-immigration law continues to stir controversy, at least 22 other states have passed or considering similar legislation aiming to aggressively target people suspected of being in the United States without documentation.
With comprehensive reform stalled at the federal level, many civil rights groups are concerned that the emerging state legislation will create a confusing and discriminatory patchwork of state laws that will not solve the overall problems.
Arizona's SB 1070, the most controversial of these policies, requires state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws upon "reasonable suspicion" that somebody is here illegally. The law has been widely denounced as extreme, unconstitutional, and fundamentally unfair and discriminatory.
Anti-immigrant legislation proposed or enacted in other states includes an Oklahoma statute that would require that undocumented immigrants submit to DNA testing upon arrest; an Idaho law that would ban undocumented immigrants from achieving resident student status; and even a blatantly unconstitutional proposition in the Arizona legislation that aims to take citizenship rights away from children born on American soil to undocumented parents.
According to the American Immigration Council (AIC), the number of state-level immigration-related bills has increased since 2006. In a recent article, AIC said:
"Unless Congress addresses the immigration issue soon, state legislators will continue to find it politically expedient to take matters into their own hands, leading to more constitutional challenges and wasted resources spent fighting a federal problem at the state level."
Civil rights groups are pushing Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, reduces family visa backlogs, ramps up enforcement while respecting civil rights and liberties, and protects the rights of workers regardless of immigration status.