The Arizona Senate’s rejection of five anti-immigration bills hasn’t slowed the pace of anti-immigration bills surging through statehouses in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.
In mid-March, the Arizona Senate voted down five bills that would have added more restrictions to the controversial 2010 bill, S.B. 1070, that put Arizona at the forefront of the crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
The 2011 bills would have: made it against the law for an undocumented immigrant to drive in Arizona, denied admission to students without proof of legal residency, and denied birth certificates to children born to undocumented immigrants.
Business leaders were credited with the defeat of those bills.
Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce accused fellow Republicans and business leaders of being “at the forefront of cheap labor and cheap votes.”
Pearce was the chief advocate of S.B. 1070 and the 2011 Senate bills.
Meanwhile in Alabama, the House passed a bill styled after Arizona’s S.B. 1070.
The bill sponsor, state Rep. Micky Hammon (R-Decatur), said, “When this bill passes and is signed into law, I think you will see illegals leaving north Alabama and going elsewhere.”
His bill would make it a crime for someone “to transport, house or give assistance” to undocumented immigrants and establish criminal penalties for those who employ unauthorized immigrants.
H.B. 56 passed the House on a 73-28 vote.
In Florida, the Senate judiciary committee passed an anti-immigration bill.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R-Brevard) said it was “the first significant step in stopping illegal immigration in Florida.”
Haridopolos, a U.S. Senate candidate, said: “This is a Florida-specific solution to address the issue of illegal immigration in our state. Florida will step up and protect its citizens because the federal government has failed us.”
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Georgia lawmakers are weighing two immigration enforcement measures, House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 40. Both measures would empower police to question certain suspects about their immigration status. The bills would also require many businesses to use a free federal program called E-Verify to confirm their newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States.”
Arizona’s Pearce praised in late March H.B. 87.
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“Having seen the positive effects of enforcement here in Arizona, I can assure all concerned that H.B. 87 will serve to greatly reduce the illegal population in Georgia, save budget dollars and protect jobs for American workers in that great state,” said Pearce.
Business and agricultural leaders, including the Georgia Farm Bureau, criticized the bill.
In Oklahoma, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa released a joint statement in which they expressed concern that immigration bills “will have the intentional or unintentional effect of instilling fear in an already vulnerable population.”
Slattery said: “There’s a sentiment here of harshness in the law and in the rhetoric. It’s not Christian. We felt compelled to say something.”
Oklahoma Senate Bill 908 was styled after the Arizona law.
The bill sponsor, state Sen. Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City), said the intent of the law is to pressure the undocumented to leave the state.
“The archdiocese has suggested that we help them,” said Shortey. “However, the majority of people here don’t want them, and they have a law behind them.”
Speaking at a march against an Arizona-style bill in the Indiana Senate, Catholic Bishop Dale Melczyk said, “We’re here to pray for the defeat of (Indiana Senate Bill) 590, and for action at the federal level that will reform immigration laws in a fair and just way.”
Mennonite, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish and business leaders signed the “Indiana Compact” in early March, opposing S.B. 590.
State Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel) said his bill would “send a clear message that Indiana will no longer be a sanctuary for people who are in our state and country illegally because of our federal government’s failure to act on illegal immigration.”
Anti-immigration bills are under consideration in both South Carolina and Tennessee legislatures.
The Los Angeles Times reported that “Congressional Republicans are drafting legislation that would require the federal government to develop a plan to add more fencing, sensors, agents and even drones to stop every illegal entry into the United States.”