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Some states seek new tactics in wave of federal immigration litigation

Legal battles over individual state immigration laws seem to be becoming more commonplace. This blog recently reported that on state law on immigration will go before the United States Supreme Court this term. Governor Rick Scott previously said that he intends to seek an immigration law in Florida next term, although the details about the total scope of what that may involve remain sketchy.

In the wake of U.S. Justice Department challenges to state immigration laws enacted by Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah, lawmakers in other states may be considering new strategies in how they intend to deal with immigration issues at the state level.

Many of the current federal challenges to individual state immigration laws involve the authority the state laws give to local law enforcement agencies to conduct immigration status checks during police encounters or investigations, depending on the different state laws. Those status checks could very well lead to removal and deportation proceedings for undocumented immigrants. Opponents of the laws also say such strategies can lead to discrimination and racial or ethnic profiling.

The local authority to conduct immigration checks under Alabama's law drew international attention recently. As this blog has reported, two automobile industry executives were recently detained under that state law while visiting Alabama on business. Lawmakers reportedly are reconsidering portions of the law, outside of the legal challenges in court.

USA Today reports that a number of states now considering different tactics for immigration issues. In Kansas, for instance, the Secretary of State says lawmakers may look at enacting laws aimed at public benefits and undocumented immigrants. That state reportedly will also look to expand the mandatory use of the federal E-Verify system. Under federal law, using E-Verify system is generally voluntary for private businesses during the employment eligibility verification process.

Many states are reportedly intrigued by another aspect of Alabama's strict state immigration law. A provision of the state law invalidates any contract entered into with an undocumented immigrant. However, some lawmakers across the country are wary about the contract provision after watching the difficulties it has created in Alabama, including long delays for legal residents trying to do such mundane tasks as renewing a car registration. The law has reportedly clogged government offices as legal residents wait to prove their citizenship or immigration status before renewing their vehicle registrations.

Source: USA Today, "States make daily life harder for illegal immigrants," Alan Gomez, Dec. 21, 2011

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