There have been several excellent posts by other ID bloggers analyzing details of the recent draconian anti-immigrant laws in Alabama and Georgia, two states that were at the heart of the Old Confederacy, slavery, racial segregation and lynch mobs. While the targets of the recent laws have changed from African-Americans to Latinos, the spirit of these laws remains the same.
So far, opposition to these attempts to bring back the deep South's long and shameful history of legalized racism with a Latin beat has been focused on the doctrine of federal supremacy, as it should be. But what if the Alabama and Georgia laws, as well as similar ones in Arizona and other states outside the old South, turn out one day soon to be not only not in conflict with federal immigration policy, but actually preludes to an even more racist and totalitarian anti-immigrant act of Congress?
As I have mentioned before, HR 3447, which passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in late 2005 but fortunately never made it to the Senate, was as bad as anything in the Alabama and Georgia laws, if not even worse. The House is now back under Republican control, including a large bloc of right wing anti-immigrant Tea Party extremists who are hoping to take away birthright citizenship from millions of US born Latino, Asian and black children, even those whose parents are here legally, but in temporary non-immigrant status.
Who who knows what will happen in next year's election? Could a time come when the only defense against legalized anti-immigrant racism in America will depend on state sanctuary laws? If this happens, as it easily could, will those of us who are now so strongly in favor of federal supremacy over immigration one day have second thoughts about what we were wishing for?
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.