As the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments Wednesday on Arizona’s immigration law, the Arizona Republic notes that much has changed in the two years since Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the toughest immigration-enforcement statutes in the nation. The state’s sizable illegal-immigrant population, one of the driving factors behind passage of the law, has shrunk dramatically. The state hasn’t passed a single immigration bill since then, ending the passage of a string of enforcement measures leading up to the law. And the state’s large but politically anemic Latino population is showing signs of gaining political muscle.
There have been changes at the national level, as well. The year after the law passed, more than 20 other states introduced bills that also gave police the power to question and arrest suspected illegal immigrants encountered during police stops, the cornerstone of Arizona’s law. Five bills passed. But since then, the rush to pass Arizona-style immigration laws has fizzled. None of the five states that considered similar laws this year has approved them. The high court’s decision is expected this summer and will likely affect similar laws in other states.