Immigration Reform

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

President Trump unveiled controversial legislation on Wednesday that would sharply curtail legal immigration to the United States.

The president met at the White House with two Republican senators pushing the legislation, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Of the many immigrants thought to be in the United States illegaly, the Arkansas United Community Coalition estimates 60,000 of them are in Arkansas. Of those, they say half would likely benefit from President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration. The state is now one of 26 fighting the President in court, but the AUCC continues to ready immigrants in case the President’s orders take effect.

A recent decision by a federal district judge in Texas to issue an injunction, blocking President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration has drawn praise from Arkansas’s chief legal officer and criticism from one of the state’s leading immigrants’ rights groups.

While Arkansas's congressional delegation has expressed a disliking for President Obama's executive order to expand legal rights to unauthorized immigrants, some state groups who've advocated for reform are viewing the order with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Mireya Reith, director of Arkansas United Community Coalition, calls the order a long-awaited “first step forward.”

“For us, more than anything, this is a reaffirmation of family values which we hold dear in our state of Arkansas and an opportunity to really keep families together,” she says.

At least 14,000 Arkansas immigrants could benefit from President Barack Obama's executive action aimed at sparing nearly 5 million people in the U.S. from being deported.

The estimate from the immigrant-advocacy group Arkansas United Community Coalition came a day after Obama announced the sweeping immigration action - which was panned by Arkansas politicians but hailed by human rights activists.

File photo: Then U.S. Representative Tom Cotton (R-4th District) at the Clinton School of Public Service (2013).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Republican U.S. Sen.-elect Tom Cotton says the president's anticipated move to protect millions of immigrants living in the country illegally from deportation would be "detrimental" to any chances of bipartisanship cooperation.

The Arkansas congressman said Monday he hoped President Barack Obama wouldn't follow through on his anticipated executive order, saying the midterm election should be seen as a message that voters don't support such action.

Cotton defeated two-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor in the Nov. 4 election.

A coalition of residents is planning to establish Fayetteville as a sanctuary city for unaccompanied Central American child refugees who’ve crossed the U.S. border this year. As KUAF’s Jacqueline Froelich reports, the northwest Arkansas city will be the first in the state to do so

Immigration protester
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

About 15 protesters met in the parking lot outside the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock on Friday to rally for stricter immigration laws in Arkansas and protest the increase of migrant children from Central America crossing the United States border with Mexico.

Kenny Wallis of Keep Arkansas Legal said he hopes the state will pass a self-deportation law like the one in Alabama, which would allow law enforcement officers to stop individuals they believe are undocumented.

Business and agriculture leaders in the state are touting new poll results showing 66 percent of likely Arkansas voters favor granting legal status of some kind to immigrants living illegally in the U.S.

The poll's release is part of a national day of action today in favor of immigration reform.

It's turning into the largest influx of asylum seekers on U.S. soil since the 1980 Mariel boatlift out of Cuba.

Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have been taken into custody. That's nearly double last year's total and 10 times the number from 2009.