Immigration Law

The Laboratories of Democracy: State Initiatives and Promotion of Immigration Reform

"Although states have been experimenting with their own initiatives on immigration, they have been related to mainly punitive enforcement laws, the most notorious being Arizona’s SB 1070. Section 2(B) of the Arizona law, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in Arizona v. USA, requires police officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person in “unlawfully present in the United States.”  While such punitive laws have received the most media attention, other states have been experimenting with initiatives that attract immigrants.  But state laws need not always be punitive.  If we have the eyes to see them, examples of positive state actions on immigration are all around us, such as the issuance of driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in California and Connecticut.  Many of the progressive achievements in modern American history, such as progressive income taxation, women suffrage, popular election of senators, wage and hour laws, occupational safety, and most recently health care and same sex marriages, to name but a select few, first appeared on the state level.  The many instances where federal intervention has been necessary to protect civil rights against state abuse should not blind us to the possibility that state action can also be a force for good." - Gary Endelman & Cyrus Mehta, Jan. 12, 2014.