For the better part of the past decade, our country’s broken immigration system has been the subject of intense debate, making headlines and raising blood pressures nationwide; however, this issue, which has captivated the media and provoked state officials, has seen little progress federally. After the 2007 immigration reform bill failed, it seemed that politicians with federal ambitions knew it was in their best interest to tread lightly when it came to immigration; the subject barely made its way into the 2008 presidential debates. Preoccupied with health care debates and economic troubles, the Obama administration has been quite quiet on the immigration front.
This is no longer the case. Like a stressed-out parent no longer able to look the other way when it comes to their trying offspring, President Obama has acknowledged the need for a change in the steps being taken to immigration reform — namely, making some. The straw that broke the camels back? Although the law is not set to become active until the end of July, 20 states have at least one legislator aspiring to implement laws similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, the controversial anti-illegal immigration measure that some say encourages racial profiling.
SB 1070 has created animosity between Arizona and other states; here in North Carolina, Durham recently approved legislation designed to boycott the Copper State by no longer sending public officials to events there. The bill was passed unanimously save for City Council member Eugene Brown, who stated that immigration reform is a federal and not a state matter, and is “sure as hell not Durham’s responsibility,” as reported by Spanish-language newspaper Mi Gente.
Simmer down, Mr. Brown. President Obama has heeded your call. An article in the Huffington Post reports that:
[The Obama] administration has spent the last several days consulting with key stakeholders in the immigration debate as well as alerting members on the Hill that the Department of Justice's lawsuit (against Arizona) will likely be announced soon.
On Monday night, officials met with a wide range of immigration-reform and union leaders to discuss steps forward on comprehensive legislation.
According to an official briefed on that meeting, the president talked through various concerns about the current failures of immigration law, as well as the focal points for implementing a new set of reforms. Obama talked about building off of the legislative framework put out by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). He also reaffirmed his opposition to Arizona's new law -- which would grant broad powers to law enforcement officials to detain and even expel illegal immigrants -- and stressed that the Department of Justice was continuing to review the legislation.
Immigration reform at the federal level will serve to create uniform legislation and quell more radical policies. Whether states like Arizona, which have taken immigration issue into their own hands, will react favorably to federal involvement remains to be seen.