Weekly Diaspora: Arizona Pushing Undocumented to Surrounding States

By Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Stricter immigration enforcement and reduced economic opportunities in Arizona has pushed many undocumented immigrants out of the state to look for work.

While restrictionist lawmakers, whose stated objective over the last year has been to drive attrition through enforcement, are satisfied, it’s not exactly the outcome they’ve been waiting for. Rather than return to their home countries, most immigrants are instead relocating to surrounding states — a trend that’s prompting legislators in other states to approach immigration reform in radically different ways.

Oklahoma Absorbs Arizona Emigrants

Oklahama is experiencing a considerable influx of undocumented immigrants fleeing Arizona,according to Kari Lydersen at Working In These Times. The rising immigrant population has created friction among residents, some of whom believe that undocumented migrants are taking jobs away from Oklahomans. In response, state lawmakers have introduced a bill known as “Arizona Plus,” which incorporates many of Arizona’s more controversial laws, in an effort to expel immigrants in much the same way that Arizona’s existing immigrations laws attempt to do. Lydersen explains:

State Senator Ralph Shortey (R) and Shannon Clark, a Tulsa police officer in charge of enforcing the city’s 287(g) immigration program, said workers including masons and tile workers have been greatly affected by the influx of immigrant workers from Arizona. Employers and civil rights leaders have decried the proposed Arizona Plus measure and other recently introduced anti-immigrant laws, saying that immigrants provide a crucial part of the state’s workforce, especially in areas with otherwise aging and declining populations.

There remains disagreement about the actual economic impacts of unauthorized immigration. As state Senator Andrew Rice (D) told Lydersen, many of Oklahoma’s incoming immigrants are assuming low-wage jobs that citizens are not even bothering to apply for.

Immigrants are an economic boon

Of course, numerous studies demonstrate that immigration actually bolsters economies rather than depressing them, effectively driving wages up and creating opportunities for American workers to move into more highly skilled fields, as Mikhail Zinshteyn of Campus Progress explains:

A study co-authored by George Borjas…shows without new waves of immigration, legal or otherwise, there would be far fewer businesses operating today because of an inadequate labor market. His partner on the paper, Lawrence F. Katz, co-authoredanother study that showed income inequality in the bottom half of the economic ladder has not increased since the 1980s—meaning the huge spike in undocumented immigrants since 1990 has had no statistical effect on the economic fortunes of the Americans they allegedly affect.

Facts notwithstanding, pitting undocumented laborers against low-income American workers is a time-tested tactic of anti-immigrant politicos. It’s effective too, even though — as Zinshteyn notes — many of its proponents also support myriad other policies that directly hurt low-income American laborers.

Utah proposes guest worker program for undocumented migrants

Meanwhile Utah’s legislature is proposing to handle unauthorized immigration rather differently. New America Media reports that state lawmakers passed a bill last week that seeks to legalize and integrate undocumented laborers into the state’s workforce. The measure would create two-year work visas for undocumented Mexican immigrants without a criminal record and their families, for fees ranging from $1,000-$2,500. Lawmakers hope to demonstrate that Utah, which is home to 110,000 undocumented immigrants, is a safer place for migrants than Arizona.

Immigrant rights advocates are not as enthusiastic, however. Colorlines.com’s Julianne Hing notesthat the Utah legislature also passed enforcement and employer sanctions measures last week, which — while less draconian than Arizona’s — nevertheless do their part to marginalize and oppress undocumented immigrants. Hing adds:

[Activists] argue that the benefits of the guest worker program will not be enough to mitigate the harm of harsh enforcement measures that will almost certainly lead to more exploitation and deportation.

Regardless, many others are lauding Utah’s efforts to implement some kind of reform that legalizes undocumented immigrants living in the United States — particularly as Congress has yet to move forward with any attempt at comprehensive immigration reform.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration bymembers of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The AuditThe Mulch, and The Pulse<. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Weekly Diaspora: Arizona Pushing Undocumented to Surrounding States

By Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Stricter immigration enforcement and reduced economic opportunities in Arizona has pushed many undocumented immigrants out of the state to look for work.

While restrictionist lawmakers, whose stated objective over the last year has been to drive attrition through enforcement, are satisfied, it’s not exactly the outcome they’ve been waiting for. Rather than return to their home countries, most immigrants are instead relocating to surrounding states — a trend that’s prompting legislators in other states to approach immigration reform in radically different ways.

Oklahoma Absorbs Arizona Emigrants

Oklahama is experiencing a considerable influx of undocumented immigrants fleeing Arizona,according to Kari Lydersen at Working In These Times. The rising immigrant population has created friction among residents, some of whom believe that undocumented migrants are taking jobs away from Oklahomans. In response, state lawmakers have introduced a bill known as “Arizona Plus,” which incorporates many of Arizona’s more controversial laws, in an effort to expel immigrants in much the same way that Arizona’s existing immigrations laws attempt to do. Lydersen explains:

State Senator Ralph Shortey (R) and Shannon Clark, a Tulsa police officer in charge of enforcing the city’s 287(g) immigration program, said workers including masons and tile workers have been greatly affected by the influx of immigrant workers from Arizona. Employers and civil rights leaders have decried the proposed Arizona Plus measure and other recently introduced anti-immigrant laws, saying that immigrants provide a crucial part of the state’s workforce, especially in areas with otherwise aging and declining populations.

There remains disagreement about the actual economic impacts of unauthorized immigration. As state Senator Andrew Rice (D) told Lydersen, many of Oklahoma’s incoming immigrants are assuming low-wage jobs that citizens are not even bothering to apply for.

Immigrants are an economic boon

Of course, numerous studies demonstrate that immigration actually bolsters economies rather than depressing them, effectively driving wages up and creating opportunities for American workers to move into more highly skilled fields, as Mikhail Zinshteyn of Campus Progress explains:

A study co-authored by George Borjas…shows without new waves of immigration, legal or otherwise, there would be far fewer businesses operating today because of an inadequate labor market. His partner on the paper, Lawrence F. Katz, co-authoredanother study that showed income inequality in the bottom half of the economic ladder has not increased since the 1980s—meaning the huge spike in undocumented immigrants since 1990 has had no statistical effect on the economic fortunes of the Americans they allegedly affect.

Facts notwithstanding, pitting undocumented laborers against low-income American workers is a time-tested tactic of anti-immigrant politicos. It’s effective too, even though — as Zinshteyn notes — many of its proponents also support myriad other policies that directly hurt low-income American laborers.

Utah proposes guest worker program for undocumented migrants

Meanwhile Utah’s legislature is proposing to handle unauthorized immigration rather differently. New America Media reports that state lawmakers passed a bill last week that seeks to legalize and integrate undocumented laborers into the state’s workforce. The measure would create two-year work visas for undocumented Mexican immigrants without a criminal record and their families, for fees ranging from $1,000-$2,500. Lawmakers hope to demonstrate that Utah, which is home to 110,000 undocumented immigrants, is a safer place for migrants than Arizona.

Immigrant rights advocates are not as enthusiastic, however. Colorlines.com’s Julianne Hing notesthat the Utah legislature also passed enforcement and employer sanctions measures last week, which — while less draconian than Arizona’s — nevertheless do their part to marginalize and oppress undocumented immigrants. Hing adds:

[Activists] argue that the benefits of the guest worker program will not be enough to mitigate the harm of harsh enforcement measures that will almost certainly lead to more exploitation and deportation.

Regardless, many others are lauding Utah’s efforts to implement some kind of reform that legalizes undocumented immigrants living in the United States — particularly as Congress has yet to move forward with any attempt at comprehensive immigration reform.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration bymembers of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The AuditThe Mulch, and The Pulse<. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

A War on Women in Oklahoma

The Republican-controlled legislature in Oklahoma today overrode the veto of Governor Brad Henry, a Democrat, to pass one of the nation's most restrictive anti-abortion laws.

There are two measures. The first requires that women undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before having an abortion. This is tantamount to psychological torture. The second measure now law in the Sooner State protects doctors from malpractice suits if they decide not to inform the parents of a unborn baby that the fetus has birth defects. The intent of this measure is to prevent parents from later suing doctors who withhold information to try to influence them against having an abortion.

From the New York Times:

Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, vetoed both bills last week. The ultrasound law, he said, was flawed because it did not exempt rape and incest victims and was an unconstitutional intrusion into a woman’s privacy. He painted the other measure as immoral.

“It is unconscionable to grant a physician legal protection to mislead or misinform pregnant women in an effort to impose his or her personal beliefs on a patient,” Mr. Henry said.

The Republican majorities in both houses, however, saw things differently. On Monday, the House voted overwhelmingly to override the vetoes, and the Senate followed suit at 10:42 a.m. Tuesday, making the two measures law.

The ultrasound law was part of a bill that was struck down by the state courts last August because it violated a clause in the Oklahoma Constitution that requires bills to deal with only one subject. Republican lawmakers vowed at the time to pass it again.

This year, Republican leaders passed five separate antiabortion bills to satisfy the courts’ concerns. Mr. Henry signed one into law: it required that clinics post signs stating a woman cannot be forced to have an abortion, that an abortion cannot be performed until a woman gives her voluntary consent, and that abortions based on a child’s gender are illegal.

Two other antiabortion bills are still working their way through the legislature. One would force women to fill out a lengthy questionnaire about their reasons for seeking an abortion and then post statistics online based on the answers. The other restricts insurance coverage for the procedure.

Though many states have passed similar laws aimed at curbing abortion, with Tuesday’s action, Oklahoma appears to have become the most hostile to women seeking to end a pregnancy, said Dionne Scott, a spokeswoman for the Center for Reproductive Rights, an advocacy group for abortion rights based in New York.

“It’s the most extreme ultrasound requirement in the country,” she said.

These days anything touched by Republican hands is, by definition, extreme. This is a party that has declared war on women, on immigrants, on the elderly, on the sick and infirm, on those with pre-existing conditions, on the poor, on you and on me. These laws are, as Governor Henry noted, unconscionable.

Two More Exonerations Stress the Need for Credible Evidence

Two more innocent men have been freed from death row. Just last week, Yancy Douglas and Paris Powell became the 137th and 138th people to be exonerated from death row.  The two men were convicted of a drive-by shooting in 1993 based on the testimony of an in-custody informant who had been offered leniency from the prosecution. The prosecutors at trial withheld information about this plea-deal from the defense, which resulted in a new trial. All charges against the two men have now been dropped because of the unreliability of the in-custody informant's testimony, the only evidence that linked Douglas and Powell to the crime.

These exonerations highlight the power prosecutors have in securing convictions by utilizing in-custody informant testimony, even when no physical evidence links a defendant to the crime. Testimony by in-custody informants or "jailhouse snitches" as they are often referred, is a leading cause of wrongful convictions.

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All Voters are Unequal: Voter ID Law Exposed as Unfair, States Still Follow Suit

When an appellate court shut down Indiana's unequal mandate for polling-place voter ID, it sent a clear signal that--partisan politics aside--election laws should be assessed on whether or not all voters are given equal access to the democratic process. Yet, despite violations of law and the fact that absentee voting is more susceptible to voter fraud activity than in-person voting, other states continue to emulate what was one of the country's toughest voter ID laws.

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