News good and bad on the immigration front

Arizona has been at it again, Even as the SB 1070 is tied up in federal court, the state has gone ahead in implementing a restriction that would make difficult the use of an ID card popular with undocumented immigrants. About the only thing they can get in the form of government-issued identity is a matricula consular. This is issued by the Mexican consulate with a photo ID and a local address. Immigrants use it to open a bank account, to prove identity or place of residence, even to purchase real estate. They have also been used to enroll children in public school.

But Arizona now forbids state and local governments to recognize these ID cards. Parents can still enroll their children in school, including undocumented children, but now have to use a passport, which creates a set of hurdles for undocumented parents. Passports are much more expensive than the matricula and do not include a local address.

Advocates of the new restriction make it quite clear it’s meant to drive the undocumented out of the state. Immigrant advocates already report confusion in the Hispanic community—some fearing that even possession of a matricula will get them into trouble with the law.

Not all the news from the states has been bad. The federal justice department has continued to file suit in court against restrictive copycats of SB 1070, most notably the Alabama law. Most state legislatures either finished their business early or were preoccupied with their own budget crises and let immigration slip, but good things also happened.

Three states have enacted mini-Dream Acts. These should be seen as first steps toward passage of a national Dream Act. They range from Maryland’s extension of in-state tuition to undocumented students to establishing private scholarship programs for them in Illinois and California. A Dream Act Part II in California is already proposed that would extend some state funds to help the dreamers. Yet these laws are being challenged. Maryland’s is subject to a referendum, though it has yet to be determined whether there enough valid signatures.