Over the last few months, immigration reform has become a topic of serious debate across the United States. While immigration reform has been a hot button issue for some time, the passage of Arizona’s immigration law, scheduled to go into effect July 29, has split American opinion and raised the debate to a greater level.
By the end of July, at least six lawsuits will have been filed against the state of Arizona, challenging the state’s tough immigration law. Most notably, the Department of Justice has filed suit against Arizona, claiming the state bill attempts to violate the Supremacy Clause and preempt federal law. Other plaintiffs include national organizations like the Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a Latino clergy group, an Arizona School District, the city of Los Angeles and various individuals including Arizona police officers and residents. These suits also cite violations of the Supremacy clause as well as claim the law violates of the Fourteenth amendment and other constitutional provisions.
Meanwhile, a recent poll by the Gallup organization and USA Today found that Americans are split over how best to solve the immigration issue. 50% of respondents felt that stopping the flow of undocumented workers into the country should be top priority while 45% of respondents felt that dealing with the undocumented population already living and working in the U.S. was more important. Overall, respondents felt the issue of immigration reform was “Very serious”, ranking its importance just under other hot button topics like the economy, unemployment, healthcare, terrorism and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At this time, no federal immigration reform legislation has been introduced in Congress though proposals have circulated informally. More than 20 states, however, are considering state legislation similar to Arizona’s law. In June, Tennessee legislators approved a law that allows state corrections officials to check the legal status of inmates and report those in the country illegally. Other states considering legislation include Oklahoma, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Utah.