Arkansas Should Not Follow Arizona and Others in Cracking-Down on Immigrant Population

Arkansas Should Not Follow Other States in Cracking-Down on Immigrant Population

Today was a big day at the Supreme Court. Below is a statement on today’s ruling on Arizona’s immigration law (SB 1070) from our Northwest Arkansas Director Laura Kellams:

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed today what Arkansas’s leading business and faith communities have agreed for many years: our state should not follow the lead of Arizona, Alabama and other states in establishing new, state-specific criminal laws to crack down on our immigrant population.

The high court only allowed one section of the law to stand – the portion of Arizona’s SB 1070 that allows local law enforcement to “check papers” – but even that may only be temporary. For the most part, justices agreed that the authority to establish immigration law belongs to the federal government. The only remaining portion of the law comes with conditions and can be reconsidered by the Supreme Court. Rather than trying to write tighter immigration laws, Arkansas lawmakers would be better served by finding inventive ways to incorporate all contributors to our economy into all facets of our society.

Like the leading businesses and employers of our state, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families understands that immigrant families contribute to our state’s economy. These families are our neighbors. The parents are our co-workers and friends. Their kids are friends with our kids. Reactionary policies that force them into the shadows haven’t worked. They aren’t consistent with our state’s values of hard work and education. And now we know they are not constitutional. A study commissioned by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation showed that immigrants have been a net “gain” for our state in terms of tax revenue. Common sense tells us they are a net gain for our culture and community.

As Justice Kennedy said in his majority opinion today, “The history of the United States is in part made of the stories, talents, and lasting contributions of those who crossed oceans and deserts to come here.” The children of immigrants are the future of Arkansas. They are mostly citizens (at least 88 percent, according to data from the Urban Institute), and it’s imperative that Arkansas ensure they have the opportunity to learn, grow, and flourish. AACF will release a report next month called “Critical Generation: Improving the Well-Being of Children of Immigrants in Arkansas.” One thing we can do to improve the lives of children in Arkansas is to focus on protecting our investments in these future workers and leaders in our state. It’s in their best interest as well as our own.

Immigrant, civil rights, faith and other groups will hold press conferences in Little Rock and Springdale today at 2:00 to respond to the decision. From their press release:

Diverse groups in Arkansas will respond to the United States Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s harmful Immigration Law. Community leaders, faith groups, immigrants and social justice groups will band together to talk about repercussions of the decision, and how important it is to prevent Arkansas from following the path of Arizona.

WHEN: MONDAY, JUNE, 25, 2012
TIME: 2:00 p.m., CST

* * LITTLE ROCK: State Capitol Rotunda

614 E. Emma Ave. in Springdale, AR, “Family Resource Center – JTL Shop”, in the “Library”