Federal immigration reform may be on hold for the next few years but immigration battles rage on in state and local governments across the country. Since 2005, for example, George Cheung, co-founder of Lopez & Cheung, Inc., a public affairs consulting firm, has protested ballot measures that would restrict immigrants' rights in Washington State. Most recently he successfully challenged I-966, a measure that would have required residents to prove their legal status before accessing certain public benefits.
Besides limiting immigrants' access to important services, Cheung believes the measure would have harmful unintended consequences-- creating a climate of fear and hurting many citizens who may have difficulty providing necessary identification. It would also turn doctors, nurses and others into immigration enforcement officials. Cheung says Healthcare providers "are on the frontlines of taking care of us. As a taxpayer, that's what I want them to do-- focus on keeping people safe and healthy."
Cheung sees I-966 as symptomatic of widespread anti-immigrant sentiment. He remains committed to building a strong coalition that can respond quickly to threats to immigrant and human rights.