HEADLINES: Immigration

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The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta struck down the piece of Alabama’s immigration law requiring schools to check identification of all incoming students.   The legislation, based on the mantra of “self-deportation” and considered by many to be the toughest in the nation, was deemed to “significantly deter undocumented children from enrolling in and attending school.”  This was heralded as a significant win by supporters of immigration reform, and will serve as a roadblock to future anti-immigration legislation, as, in the words of Mary Bauer, the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “It puts pretty serious limitations on what states can do, and they certainly can’t do it in this wholesale way that Alabama tried to do.”  The victory was far from complete, though, as the rest of the original law, including the portion effectively legalizing profiling in order to arrest undocumented workers, was upheld by the court. [Washington PostNytimes]

This week, Metropolitan State University in Denver announced a new policy that allowing some undocumented students access to specialized reduced tuition rates, providing access to higher education that for many would otherwise be entirely out of reach.  It has provoked both applause and ire in the state, which has seen an explosion of growth within their Latino population over the last 5-10 years.  When asked, the president of the college exclaimed, “Why wouldn’t we want to provide an affordable tuition rate for these students?”  So that they can get a college degree and become meaningful contributors to the economy of Colorado.”  Thus, the school became one of the first in the nation to embrace such a progressive admissions position. [Nytimes]

During a meeting of the  GOP platform committee in Tampa, Florida, the GOP, propelled by the co-writer of both the controversial Arizona and Alabama anti-immigration laws, Kansas secretary of State Kris Kobach, embraced a harsh anti-immigration stance as it gears up for the election season.  Kris Kobach was quoted as saying, “We recognize that if you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an alien today.”   This meeting solidifies that, while there is much dissent and disagreement within the party, the extreme anti-immigration views espoused by many during the GOP primaries will likely remain a cornerstone of their economic message in the coming months. [Huffington PostPolitico]

In the wake of President Obama’s historic decision to grant deferred status to childhood arrivals, the debate is still raging within individual states on what this means for their own politics, particularly in how it pertains to issuing drivers licenses.    Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a controversial figure within the immigration debate, has ordered state officials not to comply with the federal mandate to provide licenses to these undocumented young people.  Other states have followed Arizona’s lead, claiming that, as in the words of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s spokeswoman Lucy Nashed, “if lawful status is required to receive a benefit, an individual will need to seek lawful status, not deferred action.”  California, however, the state with the largest population of undocumented peoples, has moved forward with its program.   Nothing has been finalized as of yet, though, and the debate will continue throughout the nation.  As the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, Ali Noorani, said, though, “if this political grandstanding is successful, what will happen is that job creators won’t be able to drive to the small businesses they want to start, and this new class of taxpayers will be kept from contributing to their states.” [CNN]

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