Will Arizona immigration law be 2012 issue?

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Gara LaMarcheThe ruling today overturning the most extreme parts of Arizona’s SB 1070 is, of course, a welcome one. No advocate for common sense immigration reform could possibly defend SB 1070, and any rebuke of this immoral and ineffective policy is a step in the right direction. It is our view, shared by many in the immigration reform and human rights community, that the Supreme Court will uphold this ruling. The federal government has largely exclusive control over the nation’s immigration laws, which is why federal courts have repeatedly struck down parts of local laws that try to create new standards for immigrants. 

As a 2012 issue, both parties will have significant challenges gaining the trust and support of Latino voters. Republicans because virtually all of their candidates have run on nativist, anti-immigrant platforms; Democrats because they have failed to deliver on comprehensive immigration reform or even the DREAM Act, and because the Obama Administration, eager to earn its enforcement bona fides, has deported more immigrants than the Bush Administration. 

But perhaps more important than the role of immigration in the 2012 election is the ongoing role that it’s playing in state and local races, as immigration is taking on an increasingly bitter, local flavor. Thirty-seven states introduced anti-immigrant legislation. Literally hundreds of anti-immigrant bills were introduced – including 100 alone in the State of Texas.

Those of us who believe in humane, common sense reform do hope to see real leadership on the issue from President Obama and The White House in the next eighteen months. But every advocate for real immigration reform, and everyone who cheers today’s ruling needs to pay the closest attention to the states, and support efforts to halt against anti-immigrant legislation at the state and local level.

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