(Minority News Service) – Arizona’s new get-tough immigration law has emboldened other state capitols to follow suit. Legislators in at least 10 states— Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, and Maryland— have called for laws that would mirror Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, according to the Progressive States Network and reporting by New America Media.
First out of the gate to actually introduce a bill was South Carolina. Along with 20 co-sponsors, Rep. Eric Bedingfield, a Republican, introduced a bill April 29 that, like Arizona’s, requires law enforcement officials to check individuals’ immigration status.
Some of the language in the South Carolina bill, which was posted on the legislature’s website, is virtually identical to the most controversial portion of the Arizona measure signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23.
The South Carolina bill reads: “When reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt must be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.”
Civil rights advocates, like the Rev. Al Sharpton, blasted the same phrasing in the Arizona law as opening the door to ethnic profiling of Latinos and anyone else appearing foreign-born. Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the University of California, Davis School of Law, agrees the language is “very open-ended” and that some of the civil rights concerns over the Arizona law are warranted. But, he argues, successful legal challenges will likely focus on the far more clear-cut case that such laws usurp the federal government’s constitutionally granted supremacy over immigration.
Even so, state capitals, county seats and city halls insist on trying to legislate immigration controls.