Illinois is not Arizona.
Can someone tell that to Illinois State Rep. Randy Ramey who represents the area around suburban West Chicago?
Ramey has proposed anti-immigrant legislation the likes of what passed in Arizona.
The bill, HB 1969, states that police can ask about a person's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that person is undocumented.
What is reasonable suspicion?
An accent? A cowboy hat? The color of someone's skin?
It's just plain and simple racial profiling.
What's frightening is how many states have introduced immigration-related legislation. The amount has increased nearly fivefold in since 2005, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). You can link to a media analysis I wrote for the Maynard Institute here.
According to the NCSL, in 2005, 300 bills were introduced, 39 laws were enacted and six were vetoed
In 2010, more than 1,400 bills were introduced, 208 laws were enacted, 10 were vetoed, and 138 resolutions were adopted for a total of 346.
The states are wildly proposing laws because our federal government has failed to act on immigration reform.
The problem is most of these laws will be watered down, like the one in Arizona, or will be eventually thrown out in court when they are found to be unconstitutional.
All they wind up doing is stirring ethnic divisions.
There is one key difference between Illinois and Arizona. Our leading politicians don't exploit immigrants.
The mayor of Chicago to the governor of the state know they won't gain any political points by scapegoating immigrants. We also have a vocal Latino caucus in the state legislature and community organizations that won't stand for such political ploys.
I fully expect the Illinois anti-immigration bill to die in committee.
And expect Rep. Ramey to see a backlash next time he runs for office.
Until Congress addresses comprehensive immigration reform, we can expect more states to go the way of Arizona.