On Immigration, Five States Look to Arizona

By: - July 28, 2010 12:00 am

It’s a crucial week for the nation’s immigration policy, as a federal court in Arizona decides whether to block that state’s controversial new immigration law from going into effect on Thursday (July 29).

The Obama administration is suing to stop the measure , which Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed in April and gives local police broad new responsibility to determine the immigration status of those they question during the course of normal law enforcement duties. The administration is arguing that immigration enforcement is the job of the federal government, not the states; Justice Department lawyers are seeking a last-minute injunction.

Despite the administration’s arguments, it is clear that state lawmakers are increasingly taking immigration matters into their own hands amid congressional inaction on a comprehensive national policy. The latest reminder is a new report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, finding that every state with a regular legislative session this year addressed immigration and migrant issues.

NCSL’s annual report, which tracks immigration bills introduced in legislatures around the country, also found that at least five states — Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Rhode Island — are weighing their own Arizona-style immigration measures. With legislative sessions still under way in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, it is possible that another state could follow Arizona this year, though the bills are still in the early stages of debate.

Meanwhile, a new poll in Tennessee is the latest to find that public support for the Arizona law appears to be high in many states. Tennesseans favor the measure by an eye-opening 4-to-1 margin, according to the poll , which was conducted by The Tennessean newspaper and other media outlets.


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