The Federal government’s wrestle with a growing “immigration problem” this month was met with protests across the country over the weekend. Demonstrations in Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Denver, Phoenix, and, most notably, Los Angles on Saturday, made headlines around the world. (i.e., See BBC.com )
A Wall Street Journal article at the beginning of the month referred to “an illegal-immigrant population the size of Ohio—and perhaps just as important, (but that) none of the four bills before the Senate is likely to require 11 million illegal immigrants to pack up & leave… rather, almost everyone in the immigration debate agrees they want to bring illegals in from the underground economy where they’re prey to unscrupulous employers, can evade taxes, pose security problems by their anonymity, and aren’t available to industries that want to see valid work papers.”
The demonstrations were over federal applications—notably HB 4437, which Senator Hillary Clinton had decried as “creating a police state” in this country. In fact, there are almost 100 “immigration bills” submitted to Congress at this point.
There are any number of state-level considerations as well.
Immigration rights was one of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ “top ten legislative issues” forecast for 2006, with one in nine U.S. residents in the country being an immigrant—the largest proportion ever seen, according to the Census Bureau. Most are here legally, but the Pew Hispanic Center had estimated 29% were “unauthorized immigrants posing policy challenges for all levels of government,” many falling in the laps of the states as the federal government hands off more responsibility. NCSL reported that, as of February 28, 2006, forty-two states had introduced some 368 bills relating to immigration or immigrants, a significant number being employment and identification issues.
Among those are Ohio HB 358, a Medicaid provision act, and SB 9, an antiterrorism measure passed and signed by Gov. Taft on January 11th.;
Kentucky was posting some 59 items including HB 89, which addresses the employment of persons who are not residents of the United States.
Indiana’s HB 1383 restricts public assistance to illegal aliens, withholding benefits for publicly-funded health care, while HB 1414 “establishes a human & sexual trafficking work group to develop written protocols for the delivery of services to human & sexual trafficking victims without regard to the immigration status of the victim.”
It's also going to be noteworthy here that according to a WiredNews article this afternoon, "most people in the U.S. think illegal immigration is a serious problem, with a solid majority opposing making it easier for illegal immigrants to become legal workers or citizens."