As State Anti-Immigrant Bills Multiply, Economic, Public Safety, and Political Chaos Could Spread Well Beyond Immigrant Communities

As State Anti-Immigrant Bills Multiply, Economic, Public Safety, and Political Chaos Could Spread Well Beyond Immigrant Communities

By America’s Voice

Washington, DC — Following the lead of Texas and its “show me your papers” SB4 law, multiple Republican-controlled states are enacting or seeking to enact their copycat versions of state anti-immigrant legislation. Texas’ law is currently enjoined in the federal courts and could reach the Supreme Court before being enacted or rejected.

While the Texas and various state copycat laws purport to target undocumented immigrants, the impact would be felt well beyond the immigrant community should the laws navigate legal challenges. The outcome would include economic damage, civil rights violations, burdens on local law enforcement, and a dangerous balkanization of federal law as 25 or so “red states” enact their restrictive immigration, deportation, and border policies.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“The drive to politicize every part of immigration policymaking, predicated on the false and dangerous ‘invasion’ conspiracy that elites have conspired to replace native-born, white Americans, would create 50 states with 50 different immigration, border, and deportation policies. Not only would this be a clear violation of the Constitution and long-settled federal law, but it would harm our ongoing economic growth and vitality, compound existing worker shortages, and spread a climate of fear in immigrant families and beyond. Of course, creating the climate of fear about immigrant families is precisely the objective of politicians pushing these measures for political purposes.”

As CNN’s Catherine Shoichet writes in, “A controversial Texas law has become a blueprint for other states. Immigrant communities are worried”:

“Last month, Iowa lawmakers swiftly passed a bill that would allow local police to arrest some undocumented immigrants and give state judges the power to order deportations. And Wednesday, the state’s governor signed it. The law isn’t scheduled to go into effect until July 1, but Acosta and other advocates say concern and confusion are already running high in immigrant communities.

…Iowa is among at least nine states this year that have weighed restrictions mirroring portions of the Texas immigration law known as SB 4, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Proposals are still pending in some states. In others, they’ve failed to pass. It’s unclear how officials would enforce and fund the Iowa measure, which is known as SF 2340. It’s likely to face legal challenges, which means its implementation could be delayed or even blocked in court, like the Texas law that inspired it has been so far. But advocates say this uncertainty hasn’t eased worries about potential racial profiling and erosion of trust between law enforcement and communities.

…Enya Cid doesn’t plan to stick around to find out. Next month, the 21-year-old is scheduled to graduate with a political science degree from Grand View University in Des Moines. She was weighing grad school options last month when Iowa lawmakers voted to pass the immigration bill. Cid says that pushed her to make a difficult decision about her future. “I no longer want to live in a state where I feel like I’m not valued,” says Cid, who was brought to the US from Mexico when she was a toddler and says she has lived in Iowa for the past 18 years.

Cid says she’s applied for a U visa, which provides legal residency and deportation protection for victims of crimes, and says she’s been granted a work permit while her application is pending. But she fears that wouldn’t stop her and many other undocumented immigrants in a similar position from being targeted under the new measure. In addition to Iowa’s new law, Cid says several recent immigration proposals in the state failed to clear the legislature. Altogether, they’ve “caused a lot of chaos and fear in my community,” she says. Now, she says, despite her recent acceptance into grad school at the University of Iowa, that option is off the table. She’s planning to leave the state and weighing out-of-state programs in Arizona and New Mexico, where she hopes to study urban planning. “I may not be eligible to vote,” she says, “but I can vote with my feet.”

In addition to copycat laws modeling the Texas “show me your papers” legislation, several other states are considering anti-immigrant measures or have already passed them. In Florida, for example, as NPR reported today, the Governor signed a bill to prohibit local entities from passing laws to protect workers who work outdoors from exposure to heat, which is similar to a law passed in Texas widely regarded as targeting immigrant workers in agriculture and construction. The Governor of Tennessee also signed a law that goes into effect in July that requires state law enforcement to contact federal immigration officials to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they encounter, as reported Friday by El Tiempo Latino.

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