In light of the immigration law recently passed in Arizona, similar legislation has been proposed in other states and, unfortunately, Michigan will be no exception. House Representative Kim Meltzer announced on May 7, 2010 that she is in the process of drafting and will be introducing an immigration bill modeled after the Arizona law in the Michigan Legislature. Though the actual bill has not yet been introduced, Representative Meltzer has been speaking publicly about the contents of the fledgling bill.
In particular, the proposed bill would give Michigan law enforcement the authority to inquire about an individual's immigration status if they have been stopped for any lawful reason. The stopped individual can be questioned about and required to prove their lawful status on the spot. Any individual that cannot prove their lawful status risks being arrested. Interestingly, according to Representative Meltzer, a Michigan Driver's License would be acceptable proof of lawful status. This begs the question, will the inability to produce a Michigan Driver's License lead to the presumption that an individual is not lawfully in the United States?
Representative Meltzer has stated the bill would prevent law enforcement from solely considering race, color or national origin when questioning an individual about their immigration status. The exact language of the bill remains to be seen, but based on Representative Meltzer's comments race, color and national origin can be a consideration, just not the only consideration. If the bill is in fact drafted in such a fashion, it would essentially be giving law enforcement the ability to discriminate and racially profile. Regardless of the reasons, discriminatory conduct and racial profiling should never be tolerated, let alone legalized by the Legislature.
There are several immigration-related bills that have been introduced in the Michigan Legislature not patterned after the Arizona law, including one which was just passed into law. The new law requires employers that are servicing public contracts to verify the legal status of their workers. The new law also prevents cities and counties from enacting legislation that restrains local authorities enforcement of immigration-related laws, otherwise known as sanctuary ordinances. There are also bills pending in the Michigan Legislature that require heightened scrutiny and additional verification of the employment authorization of foreign national workers.
With each immigration law passed at the state level, the immigration system becomes more and more fractured at the national level. Michigan is not the first state, and it certainly will not be the last state, to try to address the national system's deficiencies through mis-guided policies at the state level. These state immigration laws are a clear indication of more to come and Congress would be wise to reform immigration at the national-level before each state takes it upon itself to enact its own immigration law.