What 2012 has to offer to the American Immigrant

Statue of Liberty, New York

Do Not Give me your Tired nor your Poor

…..”Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The New Colossus- A sonnet by Emma Lazarus inside the Statue of Liberty


It seems that the golden doors  of America are fast closing on the Immigrant. No longer are the tired, poor or homeless welcome to the land of the free and home of the braves. Set to take effect in 2012 and some already being enforced are the most punitive restrictive immigration laws yet. In 2012 the illegal American Immigrant can look forward to the following:

  1. In Alabama,  13 New Immigration laws took effect in 2012 among them requiring policemen to conduct verification of immigration status during legal stops. Also in effect is the requirement of all employers conducting business any government body to use the E-Verification system.
  2. In Georgia, any company with 500 or more employees is to use the E-Verification system to check their employees’ immigration status.  The hope is that in June of 2013, employers with over 10 workers are to also do the same.
  3. Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina also joined in and passed similar E-Verification laws.

There is hope yet for the immigrant because California has passed the Dream Act allowing children who may be illegal to receive in state tuition rates as well as some scholarships.  California also went ahead and allowed new US citizens to register and vote on Election Day.  The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Obama administration was going to make it easier for an illegal immigrant related to a US citizen to seek legal status. The administration hopes to create a path to legal status for the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the country.

So where does that leave the American Immigrant?  Members of the Diaspora either knowingly or unknowingly interact with illegal immigrants. Not only that, but as anti immigrant sentiments continue to rise, the uncomfortable question of immigration status may become a driving wedge forcing groups to feel unwelcome in a country that has in the past been unified by its differences rather than its similarities.

The immigration reform waters are murky  but one thing is for sure, the illegal immigration issue is not going to be an overnight solution. At best, it will lead to finally bringing the question to the public debate and perhaps become a central issue that gets addressed in the coming elections after unemployment. At worst, it will mean that states will continue to pass laws that will impact their tax payers and displace immigrant families.



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