States Enforce Their Own Immigration Laws

By: Ryan Dearbone Email
By: Ryan Dearbone Email

The federal government has been talking about tougher immigration reform for many years. Now, it seems individual states are the only entities actually doing something by enacting their own regulations on un-documented people.

In the past year, 43 states have begun enforcing close to 200 illegal immigration laws.

But is this a good thing?

"I feel that we're known as the United States and I feel that we should do this as an effort as a country," said Sharon Coates, a Bowling Green resident.

"Each state should address the problem as it becomes more evident to them. If they feel that tougher laws are necessary, then they should go ahead and create those laws," added Nora Beth Carroll, another Bowling Green resident.

It seems that even among people we asked, there's much disagreement about a state's role in immigration reform.

Of the 43 states who've decided to make it harder for illegal immigrants to get jobs or receive health care, Kentucky's one of the few who haven't.

The state simply follows federal regulations.

Immigration activist Marty Deputy said in Kentucky, the enforcement of laws has been split more by counties.

She also says most of these laws are in response to the federal government.

"I guess they feel frustrated with Congress not passing comprehensive or any immigration law," Deputy said.

But Bowling Green resident Bob Strickland says he doesn't have a problem with that.

"A lot of things got started at the state level and were passed on to the federal government when the states couldn't handle it," Strickland assured.

Deputy believes it would be more effective if there was a cross-the-board illegal immigration plan.

With the way things are running now, she says undocumented people will be forced to move to states with lighter laws, like Kentucky, to live and work.

So will Kentucky decide to move to more rigid reform laws?

Deputy says that's a hard question to answer.

"I guess it depends on how many jobs are being filled for employees and farmers that wouldn't be filled," Deputy explained.

But don't expect an answer anytime soon.

On Nov. 1, tougher illegal immigration laws took affect in Missouri and Oklahoma, which caused protests and rallies throughout both states.

Federal statutes say illegal immigrants can be deported, if they are arrested for criminal acts.

They can also be denied access to certain jobs and health care.

For more on states turning up the heat on illegal immigrants, click here.

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