How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Top five immigration stories of 2011, #1: The battle in the states

Photo by TK/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A year ago, when Multi-American was counting down the top five immigration stories of 2010, topping the list with Arizona's game-changing SB 1070 was a no-brainer. Not necessarily because news of the 2010 anti-illegal immigration law dominated immigration coverage last year, but because of the lasting impact the law was bound to have on other states. I wrote then:
What continues to make SB 1070 such an important story are its ramifications beyond Arizona, which will be playing out in the years to come. Even with some of its provisions still hung up in appeals court by the pending federal challenge, SB 1070 has emboldened conservative state legislators around the country to draft their own versions of the law, some just as strict or more so than the original.

A year later, SB 1070-inspired immigration enforcement bills have made their way through statehouses around the country. Similarly strict laws have taken effect in states like Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Indiana and South Carolina.

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Economics vs. enforcement: The long-running Vidalia onion saga

Photo by Old Shoe Woman/Flickr (Creative Commons)


Yesterday, NPR's All Things Considered examined the looming crisis in the Vidalia onion industry in Georgia, where growers of the prized sweet onions could be left without sufficient workers because of a new anti-illegal immigration law that tightens regulations for hiring labor.

But like a twice-deported immigrant, this is not the first time that Vidalia onions, grown exclusively in a small region within Georgia, have had a run-in with immigration enforcement.

The story didn't mention the political firestorm that ensued more than a dozen years ago, when immigration agents famously targeted Georgia's Vidalia onion growers. That story in the end illustrated how difficult it is for agriculture to subsist without cheap unauthorized labor - and how economics can trump the political will to enforce immigration laws when push comes to shove.

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