Thursday, September 25, 2008

Progressive wish list for state immigration laws cites Tennessee's past highs and lows

Will any of these ideas show up at Legislative Plaza in 2009?

Looking for appropriate ways in which state-level laws can positively address immigrants and immigration, the Progressive States Network has published an exhaustive report called the State Immigration Project, offering a five-pronged approach:
Progressive leaders need to promote policies that will highlight that those leading the anti-immigrant charge are actually against the interests of working families of all races and immigrant status. Key progressive immigration strategies include:

  • Wage Enforcement as Immigration Policy

  • Encouraging Immigrant Integration and Naturalization

  • Immigrants and Public Benefits

  • Voting Reform versus "Voter ID" Attacks, and

  • Immigrant Outreach as Public Safety and Anti-Terror Policy
  • Tennessee's past record on positive immigration legislation is mixed. On the positive side, last year's legislative session passed an anti-racial profiling bill and rejected 65 bills that were identified as harmful (here) by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. Two other positive immigration law developments in Tennessee, cited by this Progressive States report, are a notario (lawyer impersonator) fraud prevention law passed in 2006, and an anti-trafficking law passed in 2008.

    On the other hand, this Report paints Tennessee's approach overall as punitive because of legislative moves regarding employer sanctions, ID laws, and 287(g).

    I thought that one glaring error from the public safety and anti-terror section of this report was the lack of a proposal that focuses law enforcement resources on dangerous criminals who also happen to be unvisaed. There's opportunity there, since no one opposes targeted enforcement against real threats to pubic safety. The controversies are usually over the bear traps carelessly set for not only dangerous criminals but also for ordinary unvisaed workers and sometimes even legal immigrants and citizens.

    I'd also like to see some positive, symbolic measures, like a pro-immigrant license plate.

    Hat tip: Tim Chavez, who reviewed this report and reached this conclusion.

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