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Perspective on immigration changing

Attitudes regarding immigration seem to be changing in Florida as at least one Republican has done a complete turnaround in his views on the topic. Three years ago, he wanted to pass a tough bill to discourage immigration. Recently, he expressed his support for a bill that would give in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants who were in college. He explained that even he, whose ancestors had arrived in this country in the 17th century, was an immigrant and that he supported providing undocumented immigrants an education since they planned to live here. He elaborated that the status of parents should not affect how much tuition a student pays.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a tough Arizona law in 2012 after the state spent $3.2 million defending the legislation. The state wanted authorities to check the legal status of anyone who was stopped if they held a 'reasonable suspicion" that the person might not hold legal status. Indiana, Alabama, Utah, Georgia and South Carolina passed similar laws. Other jurisdictions attempted to ask people to prove their citizenship during voter registration or if they had a new job. However, other states learned from Arizona's mistakes and instead are moving toward giving immigrants more benefits, such as in-state tuition and driver's licenses.

When the Supreme Court overturned Arizona's immigration law, other states decided to focus on addressing the needs of immigrants instead of deporting them. A representative for the Florida Immigration Coalition observed that the shift in the past three years towards more support for immigrants has been huge.

Obtaining status as a legal resident can be a difficult road to travel. An immigration attorney might be able to help a client who is seeking legal status in the U.S.

Source: USA Today, "Voices: Attitudes soften toward undocumented immigrants", Alan Gomez, March 27, 2014

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