Benefits and challenges result from America having a diverse immigrant population; groups on both sides of this issue can be extremely divisive.
Immigration, on the best day, is a thorny political issue. As a candidate, promises were made by then-Senator Obama that immigration reform would be at the top of his agenda. However, that has not been the case.
“President Obama said that immigration reform, including a plan to make legal status possible, would be a priority in his first year in office, but the economic downturn and the drawn out legislative fight over healthcare may have prevented action in 2009.” http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/i/immigration-and-emigration/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier
So others have started taking action.
For example, “The U.S. Congress, however, has decided to not wait to begin addressing issues related to immigration law. The “Widows Death Penalty” change...garnered a large majority in Congress….The House of Representatives had passed the large piece of legislation by a vote of 307-114, and the Senate by 79-19.)” http://www.examiner.com/x-10548-Hartford-Special-Interests-Examiner~y2009m12d3-Immigration-rules-part-two
An editorial in The New York Times on Wednesday supported legislation that has been proposed by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). This bill would extend protection to immigrant guest workers. “It offers temporary protection against deportation and retaliation for noncitizen workers — both visa holders and the undocumented — who file civil-rights or labor-rights complaints or are witnesses in lawsuits or criminal investigations against employers.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/22/opinion/22thu3.html
Some states have also grown impatient with the lack of progress on the part of the Obama Administration in addressing the issues associated with immigration. On the other side of the coin from the Menendez legislation is the controversial new law in Arizona.
On Friday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill into law that is the toughest on immigration ever seen in this country. According to The New York Times, “Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/us/politics/24immig.html?th&emc=th
“’We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,’ Brewer said after signing the law. ‘But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.’" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36735281
The MSNBC story goes on to say, “Arizona has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants, and its harsh, remote desert serves as the corridor for the majority of illegal immigrants and drugs moving north into the U.S. from Mexico.”
However, opponents to the new law cite multiple concerns with it, most prominently a fear that the law will essentially sanction police action against individuals based solely on their race. The groups in opposition say they expect that the law will be stuck down as unconstitutional.
Every state in the nation has its own problems attributed to the biases held against various populations. Even Connecticut is not immune to charges of willful violations to civil law, such as racial profiling by the police.
For example, a study by the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission showed that East Haven, Connecticut police disproportionately ticket Hispanics for vehicular violations. “Students at Yale Law School on Friday released an analysis showing that more than half of the tickets East Haven police issued along two main roads went to Hispanic drivers, even though Hispanics make up less than 6 percent of the population.” http://www.kcautv.com/Global/story.asp?S=12364296
These charges, among other things, have led to the April 21,2010 suspension of that city’s police chief, Leonardo Gallo. http://www.wfsb.com/politics/23220431/detail.html An investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice is underway into the multiple charges being levied against Chief Gallo and the East Haven police department.
For now, the problems such as those in East Haven continue across America. President Obama is now urging congressional action on comprehensive immigration law reform.
“For Democrats, the reward for taking up immigration is that it satisfies the Hispanic lobby, which has long fought for comprehensive reform. Obama won 68 percent of the Hispanic vote in his presidential election, and it’s a constituency he wants to hold. But there are major risks for Democrats in promoting anything that can be called “amnesty,” which is how opponents characterize a pathway to citizenship. Democratic members of Congress sitting in swing districts and states are leery of voting for an immigration reform that can be used against them in November.
“Thus, the doubts about passing legislation this year.” http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2010/0423/What-will-Washington-do-about-the-Arizona-immigration-law