Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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.

Now, as Arizona prepares to fight the injunction against SB 1070 in a Ninth Circuit appeal that Gov. Jan Brewer is vowing to take all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, some states are rethinking the matter, reports USA Today. In the story, one Republican state legislator in Ohio who had planned to file an Arizona-style bill was quoted as saying filing such a bill "would be wasting taxpayers' money," and said he'd remove parts similar those blocked in the Arizona ruling to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit.

Not everyone is deterred. The USA Today story cites a Texas legislator who is prepared to keep pushing a similar measure. Politico spoke with lawmakers in other states, including in Virginia, who also say they don't plan to give up on anti-illegal immigration measures.

Meanwhile, at the national level, the battle over SB 1070 is further polarizing sides in the immigration debate. As it has been in previous midterm election years - think 2006, the year of the big immigration marches, and 1994, the year of California's Proposition 187 - expect immigration issues to be a key theme in many an election campaign.

The SB 1070 ruling last week has "revved up the political battle in advance of congressional midterm elections," reports the Arizona Republic. "Both sides in the contentious and already polarized debate are energized and hardening their positions even more as illegal immigration and border security solidify as centerpiece issues of this year's campaigns."

And in this great piece of opinionated analysis in yesterday's Washington Post, Roberto Suro of the University of Southern California writes: "Arizona's immigration law was never going to solve the problem of illegal immigration. That is not its purpose. Instead it is an invitation to a shootout in which there will be no winners."