>The new anti-immigration law in Arizona could bring Comprehensive Immigration Reform to the front. The new law gives law enforcement officers the authority to question a person as to their immigration status without other criminal activity. Previously, as in many other states, local law enforcement were only able to question immigration status when the person was suspected or accused of other criminal activity. Critics feel this new law gives the police the right to racial profile anyone with dark skin or speaks Spanish. They also say it will effectively keep an alien from calling the police when a crime has been committed against them.
The new law has gained national attention and a large number in Arizona have been protesting since the law was passed and signed. President Obama has expressed his displeasure with the new Arizona law as have many in Congress. Many feel this could cause Comprehensive Immigration Reform to be moved up on the agenda ahead of Climate Change legislation.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) was last attempted in 2007. It failed by a narrow vote. Pres. Obama has promised the Hispanic community to pass immigration reform during his tenure. It was a campaign promise that helped get a voting block that does not always vote solidly Democratic to move to the left in the 2008 Presidential election. Last year, it was widely held that if CIR wasn’t at least introduced by the end of the calendar year, it wouldn’t stand a chance in 2010. The issue was too much a political hot potato to touch in an election year…especially one that looks to be as contentious as this one. The new Arizona law has angered and empowered the pro-immigrant community yet again to push for CIR this year.
We’re not sure at this point how long that furor will last but it stands a strong chance of displacing a climate change bill (already a little shaky) from the agenda between now and the mid-term elections this fall. What does this mean for us? At this point we need to wait and see what is introduced. With the administration’s recent changes to the H2A program, there’s a lot of pressure to pass AgJOBS or include it in a CIR bill. There will be a lot of pressure to not allow a path to citizenship. There is a move to make significant changes to the entire guest worker program and there are those that want even more employer enforcement.
We’ll just have to wait and see.