The Arizona Senate’s recent rejection of multiple immigration bills – designed, among other things, to challenge birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants and the right to K-12 public education for undocumented children, and to encourage healthcare workers to report suspected undocumented persons to authorities – has been attributed in part to a combination of pressure from social movements and business interests.
High school students rallied to protest the proposed measures last week, echoing similar action by students around the country pushing for passage of the DREAM Act - a bi-partisan bill designed to grant conditional paths to citizenship for undocumented students who are working towards a degree in higher education or have served in the U.S. military – which the U.S. Senate most recently failed to pass in December 2010.
Similar protests both in and outside of Arizona appear to have influenced the Arizona business community to push for defeat of the new bills, fearing damage to tourism, bad publicity, boycotts, and law suits, like those stemming from the passage of SB 1070 last summer. Several major industry CEOs signed a letter delivered to lawmakers two days before the Senate vote, explaining their opposition to the bills.
Interestingly, while the push for passage of SB 1070 emphasized the need for Arizona to fill a policy vacuum in light of the U.S. government’s failure to enforce an adequate national immigration policy, the CEOs’ letter advocated for proponents of the new bills to focus on pressing for change to immigration policy at the federal level.