As state legislatures convene this month, lawmakers across the country who had vowed to copy Arizona's strict measure cracking down on illegal immigrants are facing a new reality.
State budget deficits, coupled with the political backlash triggered by Arizona's law and potentially expensive legal challenges from the federal government, have made passage of such statutes uncertain.
In the nine months since the Arizona measure, SB 1070, was signed into law, a number of similar bills have stalled or died, or are being reworked. Some have faced resistance from law enforcement officials who question how states or communities could afford the cost of enforcing the laws.
And some state legislators have backed away from the most controversial parts of the Arizona law, which has been challenged in court by the federal government and others. A federal judge has put on hold some of its provisions, including those that would require police to check immigration status if they stop someone while enforcing other laws, allow for warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants and criminalize the failure of immigrants to carry registration papers. The case is awaiting a ruling before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
"Obviously most places were not going to pass Arizona bills," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates tighter immigration laws.
"There's always an initial flush of enthusiasm and then the reality of politics sets in. ... These states are bankrupt. They need to decide what battles they want to fight."
"I won't be surprised to see more state task forces looking more fully at this issue," said Ann Morse, program director of the Immigrant Policy Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Currently, Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, Florida, Nebraska, Kentucky, Utah, Pennsylvania, Texas and South Carolina are among the states where Arizona copycat bills have been drafted.
In Florida, an Arizona-style bill that appeared headed for passage a few months ago now appears to be on life support. Even its primary Senate sponsor has expressed concern that the provision allowing police to check a person's immigration status during a traffic stop could amount to racial profiling.
In Utah, a state dominated by conservative Republicans, a couple of bills similar to Arizona's statute are in the legislative pipeline. But in November, state leaders from business, law enforcement, education and the Mormon Church urged moderation - and with some success. They drew up the "Utah Compact," which declares immigration a federal issue and urges legislators to focus resources on local crime.
There could be a political downside to enacting tougher laws headed into the 2012 presidential election.
At a recent conference organized by the new Hispanic Leadership Network, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican who has criticized the Arizona law, noted the importance of Latino voters.
"Hispanics will be the swing voters as they are today in the swing states," said Bush. "If you want to elect a center-right president of the United States, it seems to me you should be concerned about places like New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Texas, places where but for the Hispanic vote, elections are won and lost."