US Catholic Faith in Real Life

States unsure how to proceed with immigration

Father Tom Joyce CMF | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

With passage of SB 1070 last year in Arizona, a bandwagon started to enact copycat laws in states dominated by Republican legislatures. Even when a federal court declared some central features of the law unconstitutional, interest was not abated. The GOP rode to victory in more legislatures this last election, and it seemed that other SB1070s would be coming soon.

The band wagon in other states, however, seems to have gotten stuck in the real world of the states' woeful fiscal conditions. Confronted with growing budget deficits, they will have to put their SB 1070s on the back-burner. Though Indiana just voted one out of a Senate committee, the governor, a conservative Republican, is non-committal about a costly Hossier 1070.

Local law enforcement agencies, already facing sharp cuts in personnel and funds because of the recession, complain they can’t afford to take on the added responsibility of enforcing immigration laws—normal policing of the community would suffer.

Nor can legislators look to Washington for help, since the new GOP freshmen in the House of Representatives are going after funding for community policing as one of President Obama’s “socialistic” programs. They'll continue to complain about the lackadaisical federal immigration enforcement. But for now the proponents of the SB1070 look-a-likes defend them as a way to get tougher federal enforcement.

Arizona, however, continues to push forward with new anti-immigrant meagures, such as checking on the immigration status of those checking into hospitals. The state is even suing the federal government for lax enforcement on the border, which it says has allowed an “invasion” of the state. Arizona lawmakers are also proposing a new measure to declare the children of the undocumented non-citizens of their state, not entitled to a state birth certificate.

These efforts come as a Brookings  Institute study of early findings of the 2010 census concludes that the United States is not destined to remain a white, European majority nation much longer. While unauthorized entry has somewhat stabilized because of the recession, the number of Hispanic, African American, and Asian youth continue to grow.

The majority of new births in this country come from these groups, and already less than half the children under three years are white. Most are mix of black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and mixed race. The only significant white demographic growth is among those over 65. Already nine states, including Arizona, and the District of Columbia have a school population of the new multi-ethnic majority.

Certainly declaring young Hispanics “non-citizens of Arizona” will not hold back the demographic tide, so long as those born here are protected by the 14th amendment of the Constitution. But then again, Tea Party Republicans are introducing bills to change the Constitution.