Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

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Immigration Reform Is Happening

by Shannon K. O'Neil
July 14, 2014

Honduran national Maria (no last name given) kisses Daniel, 4, with Alejandra, 7, and Marvin, 5, (R-L) as she waits in an isolation cell after she was caught attempting an undocumented entry into the U.S. from Mexico in Laredo, Texas, May 3, 2006 (Rick Wilking/Courtesy Reuters).


Despite the standstill in Congress on immigration reform, state and local governments have been very active in passing their own immigration legislation. In this article for Foreign Policy, I look at what different states and cities are doing regarding immigration and the effects of their policies. You can read the beginning of the piece below: 

With all the mudslinging and acrimony in Washington over unaccompanied minors and unauthorized immigrants, you might have missed it. Immigration reform has already happened — in fact, hundreds of times. With the federal government incapacitated, states, cities, and municipalities have stepped into the fray.

In 2013 alone, forty-five of the fifty state legislatures passed over four hundred laws and resolutions on everything from law enforcement and employment to education and public benefits. Among this flurry were a few in the Arizona SB 1070 style — bills making life more miserable for undocumented immigrants. These laws ranged from blocking access to health care and schools to criminalizing common activities such as driving cars or buying homes. But the majority are actually designed to find ways to integrate undocumented immigrants — funding English language and citizenship classes and providing access to medical care and other social services.

You can read the rest of the piece here on

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