This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Status of State Immigration "Reform"

Speaker of the House John Boehner has declared immigration reform to be officially "dead" for 2013, but things are moving slowly in the favor of immigrants at the state level, at least in terms of legislative assaults against undocumented immigrants. The Migration Policy Institute recently posted a report summarizing, in particular, the settlement of a lawsuit in Alabama that effectively shuts down that state's extreme attempt to legislate against undocumented immigrants.
The Alabama settlement last month, which ends a lawsuit that has been moving through the courts since enactment of HB 56 in 2011, can be seen, at least for now, as the final blow to a breed of multi-pronged state laws aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. The critical blow clearly came in June 2012 when the Supreme Court, in Arizona v. United States, struck down most provisions of Arizona's SB 1070, a precursor to HB 56 and similar legislation by several other states.
 Most provisions of HB 56 never went into effect because they were blocked by federal courts. The law was almost entirely enjoined by the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in August 2012 in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Arizona v. United States. In April 2013, the Supreme Court declined to hear the state's appeal, effectively leaving intact the lower court's decision.
Alabama on October 29 settled the lawsuit brought by immigrant and civil-rights advocates, as it became clear that the Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit rulings would prevent most of the law's components from ever being enforced.
As state activism on immigration enforcement has reached a near halt, momentum in 2013 has swung in the other direction — to laws expanding benefits to unauthorized immigrants and to noncitizens more generally.
There seems to be a widespread belief (hope?) that immigration reform will pass the House next year, so the momentum does seem to have shifted toward a more rational and humane approach to the role of immigrants in American society.

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