Arizona copycats fail to follow through

ARIZONA COPYCATS FAIL TO FOLLOW THROUGH…. A year ago, Republicans in Arizona sparked a national debate with a horrendous anti-immigrant law. In the aftermath, there were fears of epidemic — far-right lawmakers in at least 20 states vowed to pursue their own versions of SB1070.

Fortunately, that never happened, as the L.A. Times reported over the weekend, “the momentum has shifted.”

In at least six states, the proposals have been voted down or have simply died. Many of the other proposals have not even made it past one legislative chamber.

The most-discussed provision in the Arizona law requires police to investigate the status of people they legally stop whom they also suspect are illegal immigrants.

But even in Arizona, several tough immigration proposals have been stalled in the Senate, with business leaders and some Republicans arguing that the state does not need more controversy.

The exception, at first glance, would appear to be Utah, which just passed a package of reforms that include requiring law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone arrested on a felony or serious misdemeanor charge. But Utah’s bill also includes a guest worker program that allows undocumented immigrants to work in the state legally.

SB1070 it isn’t.

So what happened to Arizona’s would-be copycats? There are a few competing angles to this, including the fact that most states don’t invite national controversy and large-scale boycotts.

But let’s also not forget that the business lobby and law-enforcement officials tend to oppose these measures, too, which makes it at least a little easier on immigration advocates.

Indeed, despite GOP efforts to use the police as some kind of local ICE brigade, police chiefs nationwide prefer “clear lines drawn between local crime-fighting and federal immigration enforcement.” Far from backing the Republican anti-immigrant campaign, chiefs tend to believe “officers should be explicitly prohibited from arresting people solely because of their immigration status, and should have orders to protect victims and witnesses regardless of that status.”

That’s not surprising. Officers want cooperative relationships with immigrant communities, which in turn makes law enforcement more effective. The GOP effort is intended to seem “tough,” but it makes crime prevention harder, not easier.