City and state policies can welcome immigrants, too.
By Peter J. Spiro
Thousands gathered in more than 70 cities nationwide last weekend to demand that Congress enact comprehensive immigration reform. Arizona’s recently enacted immigration law had galvanized the protesters, who see Washington as the antidote to anti-immigrant policy at the state level.
But immigration advocates should be careful what they wish for. Immigration is among the most unpredictable political issues in Washington. Recent history has shown that things can go very wrong for immigrants when a vocal minority is intensely opposed to immigration.
Advocates would do better to take their cause where they can be more confident of gains: cities and states that welcome immigrants regardless of their federal status.
Arizona’s law amounts to a self-inflicted wound, scaring away productive, taxpaying immigrants, legal or not. Other jurisdictions – Philadelphia included – can make Arizona’s loss their gain by working to advance immigrant interests in their own back yards.