In 2011, the legislators of state formulated a record of immigration regulations. However, these regulations were fewer than it had been predicted. The key areas affected by the regulations include laws inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070, laws requiring applicants to verify their immigration status or citizenship, laws mandating E-verify and laws concerning immigrants’ access to education. These areas would play a vital role in 2012 states’ debates.
The state legislative session of 2011 saw the introduction of legislations portraying elements of Arizona’s SB 1070. The bills shared various features and occasionally required the state as well as local law enforcement officers transform routine encounters with members of the community. The y contained provisions that allowed warrantless arrests on alleged immigration status. The laws aimed at formulating immigration policies and punishments such as state-law penalties and criminalizing the actions of immigrants. However, there are some states that rejected the SB 1070 regulations. They held that these regulations are unconstitutional; undermine public safety and a burden to the state and local budgets.
The laws authorizing E-verify enrollment targeted both the employers and employees. E-Verify are internet-based and voluntary systems that permit employers to verify their newly hired employees electronically. By 2011, only three states had implemented the laws while five states either passed or their governor issued a directive to make use of E-verify. Unfortunately, the legislation was rejected because of its negative association with Arizona SB 1070. In May 2011, the court implemented a law that required all employers to make use of E-verify. Those who failed to use the system risked to lose their business licenses. Some states got an opportunity to introduce proposals authorizing E-Verify.
The laws that required public benefits applicants to verify their immigration status and citizenships were also enacted in 2011. They originated from Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2004. Adults seeking public benefits are required to sign a statement that is subject to prosecution for attesting they are lawful immigrants and for fraud. However, the law received resistance in many states. They held that U.S citizens are the major targets of these laws. The vulnerable states are those that require verification done through a designated list of documents. There were concerns regarding the unintended consequences resulting from the verification laws. The laws imposed burdens on state and local agencies. Consequently, the attorneys general of both Alabama and Georgia recommended a narrower application of the laws.
Moreover, the year 2011 saw the implementation of laws concerning the immigrants’ access to higher education. The legislators were persuaded by the advocates to improve access to education by all. The campaigns were set to continue in 2012. This is because the results in 2011 were mixed with inclusive and restrictive bills turning to law. College or university students who happen to have attended high school in a state for several years were eligible to tuition rates. They only needed to graduate and meet other criteria, with no regard to their status of immigration. Since higher education seemed inaccessible to many students, there was need for them to attain scholarships and financial aid. Undocumented students were banned from enrolling in higher education. Fortunately, after a referendum was carried out, the ban was lifted.
The close of 2011 saw individuals and entities confront a number of challenges. There were economic and fiscal costs of regulations, splits among conservative legislators and surfacing of business groups. The states that implemented the Arizona laws eventually started to question its wisdom. Although the momentum from anti-immigration movement has been sapped, several states seem poised to relate restrictive measures in 2012. Therefore, the immigrants, their advocates and allies should remain vigilant in 2012.