Starting in 2011 there has been a sharp increase of immigration legislation at the state level. Some of these more notorious laws include Arizona´s “S.B. 1070” which allowed law enforcement officers to ask for individual identification with no prior reason (the “show me your papers” bill).
Continuing in the same vein, Pew Charitable Trusts states that state legislatures are beginning to debate new laws aimed at dealing with immigration laws on a local level. According to Stateline, immigration-related legislature has increased by 28 percent during the first half of 2013 when compared to 2012.
However, a key difference is that this round of legislature is infact reducing the number of restrictions placed on immigrants. According to the Pew Research Center, this phenomena is in part because of a Supreme Court ruling which struck down significant parts of Arizona´s S.B. 1070, making it more difficult for anti-immigrant forces at the state level.
Further examples of these loosened restrictions can be seen in the increase in states which now permit unauthorized immigrants to legally drive (increasing from three to ten). Further bills will go on to lessen restrictions for immigrants seeking gun licenses, hunting licenses and most importantly professional licenses.
However, it is not yet time to celebrate. Opponents of these reforms do plan to debate the nature of these new reforms. Regardless, licensing measures are firmly within the scope of state legislatures and are not an abuse of their power.
The more important note to take away from this is that if congress will not pass immigration reform at the national level, states can and will decide to take measures into their own hands. Decisions like this can have devastating effects such as Arizona´s S.B. 1070. Therefore, let´s hope that congress takes a cue from state governments and works out a passing version of immigration reform.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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