How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In the news this morning

Now that the battle over Arizona's SB 1070 is set to take place in federal appeals court this fall, the immigration-related news this week is no longer all Arizona, all the time. But there are a number of other interesting stories unfolding, among them these:

  • Controversy continues over a leaked U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services memo proposing means to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants, criticized as a plan for "backdoor amnesty," by GOP leaders, some of who are now calling for a hearing, according to the Arizona Republic. In recent days, various news outlets explained the contents of the memo. Groups it would benefit include immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean who hold temporary protected status, the Miami Herald reports.

  • The Hill is one of several publications in recent days to report on at the looming battle over the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to those born in the United States. Several GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Russell Pearce of Arizona, the architect of SB 1070, favor the idea of amending the constitution so as to deny birthright citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants.


As immigration politics play out, border deaths rise

desert helicopter

Photo by rejuvesite/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A U.S. Border Patrol helicopter over the Arizona desert

A few days before I left for Phoenix last week to cover the events surrounding SB 1070, Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration law, I posted on a darker story unfolding to the south: Just in the first two weeks of July, the bodies of 40 people believed to have crossed the border illegally had been delivered to the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office in Tucson.  Officials there were struggling with a crowded morgue and concerned that if the trend continued, July border-crossing deaths there would top their single-month record of 68 deaths in July 2005.

That did not happen, but according to the Homeland Security Department, but there is worse news: Year to date, overall border-crossing deaths in the U.S. Border Patrol's arid Tucson sector have topped those recorded by the agency during fiscal year 2005, the deadliest year on record along the entire southwest border, when 492 deaths were recorded border-wide.


Report charts a dramatic rise in immigration-related state legislation

Just saw these eye-opening numbers in a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures:

In the first six months of 2010, state legislators introduced 1,374 bills and resolutions in 46 states relating to immigrants and refugees. This number is comparable to the first half of 2009, when 50 states considered more than 1,400 bills and resolutions pertaining to immigrants. An additional 10 bills are pending Governor's approval.

According to the report, every state in regular session addressed immigration issues in their legislatures in 2010. As of June 30, bills similar to Arizona's SB 1070 had been introduced in five states: South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Michigan.

The report also charts this dramatic rise in immigration-related state bills over the past few years:


After Arizona decision and protests: Now what?


Photo by Patrick Dockens/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Arizona state flag

Now that the protests have wound down in Phoenix, the attention on SB 1070 shifts to the state's appeal and even more so, to how last week's decision by a federal judge to block parts of the anti-illegal immigration law will affect the politics of immigration at the national and state level.

In the months since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law last April, a growing number of states were considering adopting their own anti-illegal immigration laws, some with provisions very similar to those in SB 1070. In May, the conservative Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) put the tally of states at 17. Municipalities have followed suit, including Temecula, which recently adopted a measure forcing businesses to use E-Verify, a federal tool for screening employees' legal and work eligibility status, and Fremont, Neb., which now finds itself in a court battle after civil rights groups challenged its planned anti-illegal immigration housing ordinance.