It seems unlikely, but Arizona and Alabama seem to have a lot more in common recently than just their alphabetical order positioning. For example, just last week popular blog Gawker rated the two states numbers one and two respectively on their list of the 50 worst states in the nation. Of Arizona, the website poses the likes of Joe Arpaio (“an insane lunatic cowboy wannabe”), Jan Brewer and Jared Loughner as meriting the state’s dishonor. Of Alabama, Gawker sites a similar right wing political environment rife with racism, homophobia and general craziness for granting the state its ignominious new distinction.
One has to assume that the true reason these two states sit at the top of the worst is due to their status as vanguards of a growing national anti-immigrant movement.
Arizona led the way in the movement, of course, with two pieces of legislation: 2004’s Proposition 200 and the more recent SB 1070. Inspired by these efforts, Alabama followed in Arizona’s anti-immigrant footsteps with its own controversial legislation, HB 56, now considered to be the harshest immigration enforcement law in the nation.
This week, Alabama added one more item to its list of similarities to its Southwestern sister state when a federal judge officially blocked enforcement of HB 56. Last summer a judge in Arizona shot down key measures of the state’s SB 1070, arguing that it intruded on the federal government’s authority to enforce immigration law. Now, in a very similar ruling, Alabama judge Sharon Blackburn is temporarily putting HB 56 on hold while she further considers the bill’s constitutionality.
Not only do Arizona and Alabama share the distinction of being at the forefront of a national anti-immigrant movement, but they also both serve as platforms for public debate on the issue. Earlier this summer as Arizona Governor Jan Brewer requested that the U.S. Supreme Court drop the injunction against SB 1070, the contentious debate over immigration law was renewed in this state. Now, the fight in Alabama between those who support and those who reject the harsh anti-immigrant measures of HB 56 has reached a similar fever pitch.
Unfortunately, if public sentiment has any influence on the future of immigration legislation, it seems that the full enforcement of SB 1070 and HB 56 as well as similar legislation that is already cropping up in other states is inevitable. One recent poll found that over half of U.S.-Americans support the sort of anti-immigrant legislation that Arizona and Alabama have created. With this sort of public support, it is only a matter of time until even harsher anti-immigrant laws start popping up, and being enforced throughout the country.