States across the nation are proposing anti-immigration legislation.
But Illinois went against the grain this week and put forth two pro-immigration initiatives.
Gov. Pat Quinn sent a letter to Homeland Security to withdraw the state from a controversial immigration program called Secure Communities, and the state Senate passed a version of the DREAM Act, according to an article by Antonio Olivo of the Chicago Tribune.
While in this blog I have advocated in favor of immigration reform, I don’t believe it is the role of the states to enforce or enact immigration laws.
Arizona has been criticized for enacting an anti-immigration law that has been now mostly muted in the federal courts. I wonder if other pro-immigrant state initiatives, no matter how noteworthy, could face similar court challenges.
Enforcement of immigration law is federal responsibility and states are acting in favor or against immigrants because Congress and President Obama have failed to pass any kind of immigration reform.
So state leaders are taking up immigration law and issues that federal officials are too timid to tackle.
Gov. Quinn does have valid concerns about Secure Communities. This program was designed to target criminal undocumented immigrants but Quinn stated more than a third deported had not been convicted of any crime.
Advocates have said, for example, that undocumented immigrants driving without a drivers license, which they aren’t allowed to obtain in this state and others, were deported.
The state would be more secure if we allowed all drivers to get a license regardless of their immigration status and if then in turn those drivers are insured.
Also, on Wednesday the Illinois state Senate passed by a vote of 45-11 a local DREAM Act bill. It calls for private scholarships and another financial aid for undocumented college students. And on Cinco de Mayo in California the state Assembly also passed a state version of the DREAM Act.
While this may help more undocumented students get through college it still doesn’t resolve what they should do when they graduate.
Unless the Congress finally passes the DREAM Act, which has been languishing on Capitol Hill for almost a decade, these students will have no way to legally find a job in their chosen profession when they graduate.
I know that the efforts of Illinois officials this week are well-meaning and they are taking a stance in the immigration debate.
But it’s really the role of our U.S. senators, congressmen and president to tackle immigration issues and so far they are failing miserably.