Other States Follow Arizona’s Lead
The small Nebraskan city of Fremont has become the new center of controversy in the battle over illegal immigration. Roughly three months after Arizona enacted into law their controversial Senate Bill 1070, in which failure to carry immigration documents is considered a crime and police have increased power to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant, the debate has been reignited after several states have taken action to enact similar laws. Despite SB1070 not going into effect until July 29, its impact already resonates nationwide.
With a 57 percent majority, voters in Fremont recently approved Ordinance NO 5165, which forbids landlords from renting property to illegal immigrants and requires potential renters to obtain city occupancy licenses to prove their legal status.
The ordinance would also require businesses to use a federal database system when employing workers, essentially banning illegal immigrants from being hired and from the city altogether. Along with the lawsuit filed against the Arizona law that requires immigrants to carry their papers and allows the questioning of people under “reasonable suspicion” of being illegal, the American Civil Liberties Union expects to do the same with the Fremont law they dismiss as contradictory to “American values of fairness and equality.”
Fremont’s Hispanic population amounts to less than 10 percent of the city’s population, and opponents argue that enforcing the ordinance would be a radical measure that could severely affect Fremont’s economy and drain its resources. Supporters counter that the federal government has been irresponsible in enforcing illegal immigration policies, leaving it up to state governments to resolve the matter themselves.
Ordinance NO 5165 forbids landlords from renting property to illegal immigrants and requires potential renters to obtain city occupancy licenses to prove their legal status
Despite the controversy, other states have not been discouraged from putting similar laws into action. Businesses in South Carolina have now implemented a law that mirrors Fremont’s regulation on the method for hiring workers. Those who do not comply and are found employing illegal immigrants could be fined $1,000 per worker and, after repeated offenses, have their business closed.
Another 10 states have expressed interest in pursuing “Arizona-like” laws including Colorado, Georgia, Utah and North Carolina. The mixed reactions of the borders states – California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – have been under scrutiny. Those states have the greatest influx of immigrants and house Hispanic populations which range from 30 to 44 percent of the total population.
Both New Mexico Governor William Richardson and Texas Governor Rick Perry hold an unwavering opposition to the Arizona law; however, Texas representatives already have plans to introduce an immigration bill into state legislature. These attempts seem ineffective, as demonstrated by the 2008 attempt to enact laws identical to Fremont’s in Texas and Pennsylvania. Those laws were struck down by a federal judge that ruled them unconstitutional.
In spite of the national debates, rallies and boycotts, a CNN poll from May shows that 57 percent of Americans agree with the Arizona law and 37 percent disapprove. However, these attitudes are not reflected internationally. The annual Border Governors Conference, an annual congregation for both American and Mexican governors, was jeopardized after Mexican governors decided to protest the event in light of the Arizona policies they deem “contrary to fundamental rights.”
By Michelle Carrera
What’s your take on states imposing immigration laws? E-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out OUTLOUD’s previous coverage on Arizona’s Immigration Law.