Arizona, the pioneer of a series of tough new immigration laws passed in several states across the country, is considering softening its policies according to insiders in the Arizona statehouse.
The initial Arizona law, passed in 2010, made it a crime to be undocumented in the state and mandated that police verify the immigration status of individuals stopped by law enforcement. The laws set off a political firestorm, receiving praise and condemnation from all corners of the country. Currently, most of the components of the law have been blocked by a federal court pending judicial review.
The Arizona law inspired several other states, including Alabama and Gerogia, to pass more restrictive immigration laws.
There are signs, however, that the support for the controversial law is slipping. Last November, the architect of the controversial law, State Senator and Senate President Russell Pearce, was ousted from office in a recall election by a candidate who supported less confrontational immigration policies. Other state politicians, possibly as a result of the recall election, have begun backing away from tough immigration policies, stating that their constituents are more concerned with the economy than immigrants.
Business pressures have also increased as many Arizonans question the economic wisdom of these draconian laws. In Georgia and Alabama, new immigration laws have created a farm labor vacuum, leading to tens of millions of dollars of lost revenue. Hoping to avoid a similar situation, a number of Arizona economic organizations, including the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and the Arizona Farm Bureau, have signed the Arizona Accord, which reminds state lawmakers of the economic contribution of immigrants and advocates federal, rather than state, solution to the immigration debate.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer