How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

SB 1070 in the Supreme Court: Three views of what may happen and what it would mean

Photo by IslesPunkFan/Flickr (Creative Commons)


Two years after it was signed into law and many imitations later, Arizona's precedent-setting SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court next week. The high court, with one justice recused, is set to hear oral arguments April 25.

The federal government filed suit against the state of Arizona not long after SB 1070 was signed into law April 23, 2010, challenging the measure on the grounds that its provisions were “preempted” by federal immigration law. That July, on the eve of its implementation, four controversial provisions of the law - including one that empowered local police to check for immigration status based on "reasonable suspicion" that a person may be undocumented - were blocked by a federal judge in Phoenix.

After a federal appeals court upheld the lower court judge's decision, Arizona filed a petition with the Supreme Court: "The question presented," the petition reads, "is whether the federal im-migration laws preclude Arizona’s efforts at cooperative law enforcement and impliedly preempt these four provisions of S.B. 1070 on their face."

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Four of the top 10 states with biggest immigrant population growth now have Arizona-style laws

Source: Migration Policy Institute

The top 10 states with the biggest foreign-born population growth between 1990 and 2010, based on census data

One post earlier this week mapped the top 10 states with the biggest foreign-born population growth since 1990; another post took a look at the states that since 2010 have enacted anti-illegal immigration laws. Among these are five states that since then have enacted strict laws similar to Arizona's SB 1070, which the U.S. Supreme Court is set to weigh in on next month.

Put the data in both together and you have this: A list of the states with the fastest-growing immigrant populations that have recently enacted Arizona-style immigration laws. And as it turns out, of the five states with new laws similar to SB 1070 since 2010 - Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and Indiana - all but one are on the top 10 list.

Here are the four states, all of which have seen more than 280 percent growth in their foreign-born populations since 1990, according to the Migration Policy Institute map above, and a brief synopsis of what's happening with their immigration laws, all of which face legal challenges:

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The top five immigration stories of 2011

During the past week, Multi-American has been counting down the biggest and most influential immigration stories of 2011. That's not to say there were only five: It's been a major year for stories related to the immigration debate, especially as the battleground has shifted to the states, record deportations have continued, and the Obama administration's expansion of federal-local partnerships such as the Secure Communities fingerprint sharing program continues to draw controversy.

Stories that didn't make the list are also worth mentioning, among them the passage of state tuition-aid bills for undocumented students like the California Dream Act and the continued steep drop in illegal border crossings - even as illegal immigration remains a popular talking point for candidates seeking the presidency in 2012. Here are M-A's choices for top stories of the year.

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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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Top five immigration stories of 2011, #4: Birthright citizenship

Photo by Victoria Bernal/Flickr (Creative Commons)


The political battle over birthright citizenship exploded almost a year ago, when a series of states began introducing bills seeking to cut off the children born to undocumented immigrants from automatic U.S. citizenship.

The United States, like most countries in the Americas but unlike many European nations, has had a longstanding practice of jus soli citizenship, meaning citizenship is granted to those born on U.S. soil (jus soli is Latin for "right of the soil). Other nations, such as Germany, abide by versions of jus sanguinis (Latin for “right of blood”) citizenship, which there is granted only to children of citizens and/or legal residents.

The notion of barring the children of undocumented immigrants from receiving U.S. citizenship had long lingered on the more extreme fringes of the immigration restriction lobby. But in the anything-is-possible climate that followed the approval of Arizona's stringent SB 1070 last year, a group of like-minded state legislators banded together and, with the aid of attorneys who worked on SB 1070, created one-size-fits-all model state legislation that would distinguish between babies born to undocumented immigrants and other children when issuing state birth certificates.

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