The New York Times, 01/21/2014
Immigrants coming to the United States increasingly face a distinctive choice: Live in Red America, where laws clamping down on services to those in the country illegally are winning support, or Blue America, where life is a little easier for them. Comprehensive immigration reform languishes amid partisan sniping on Capitol Hill. But Republicans and Democrats in 45 state legislatures around the country have taken decisive action in the last year to revise their own laws relating to immigration, and how their states treat illegal immigrants.
“We are still waiting for the federal government to fix the immigration system,” said Washington State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D), the co-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ immigration task force. “States are doing the best we can with the tools we have available to us. State legislators face fiscal challenges in education, health and law enforcement. To do nothing is not an option.”
Despite the congressional inaction, both Republicans and Democrats have taken steps in response to the federal government. Republican-controlled states acted to tighten immigration laws in response to a 2012 Supreme Court decision that struck down some law enforcement elements of Arizona’s controversial Senate Bill 1070. A handful of Democratic-controlled states acted after the Department of Homeland Security said it would offer a temporary reprieve, and permission to work, to low-priority illegal immigrants.