By JULIA PRESTON| The New York Times
The decision by the Supreme Court this week upholding an Arizona law punishing employers for hiring illegal immigrants was an energy boost for state lawmakers across the country who have proposed bills this year to curb illegal immigration. As if they needed it.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, state lawmakers set a new record in the first three months of the year, proposing 1,538 bills related to immigration, with 141 measures in 26 states passed into law. While some of those laws extended new opportunities to illegal immigrants, like permitting them to pay lower in-state tuition rates at public colleges, most of the laws imposed restrictions on them.
With its decision on the hiring law that Arizona passed in 2007, the Supreme Court indicated that it would not flat out disallow any action by states on immigration enforcement, even though federal law generally pre-empts state measures in that area. State lawmakers now know for certain that there is some firm legal ground for the recent round of bills that seek to drive illegal immigrants out of the country by preventing them from taking jobs and even living here.