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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Alabama, So. Carolina lead nation in Latino population increase - and strict immigration laws

Photo by Maurice Michael/Flickr (Creative Commons)


The states with two of the nation's most restrictive new anti-illegal immigration laws also happen to be the two states that saw the biggest jump in their Latino population during the last decade.

Alabama saw a 145 percent increase in its Latino population between 2000 an 2010, according to census data, the second highest Latino growth rate in the nation. Its HB 56 immigration law, which remains partially blocked but has still caused a rash of school absences and a labor crisis in the fields as Latino workers flee the state, contains more restrictive provisions than Arizona's controversial SB 1070 on which it is modeled.

South Carolina, just sued by the federal government over its new SB 1070-inspired law allowing police to check for immigration status, saw the nation's biggest percent jump in Latino population growth: 148 percent. And Georgia, where an anti-illegal immigration law known as HB 87 was partially blocked in court over the summer but still caused a labor crisis, is not far behind. That state saw its Latino population grow 96 percent between 2000 and 2010.

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