Fox News (who are admittedly pushing this angle) report that Utah, Rhode Island, Texas and Georgia are taking steps towards show-us-your-papers laws like Arizona's. They make no mention of an upcoming election, and the cynical political appeal of being 'tough'.
Politicians are especially given to doing stupid things to look tough in election years. Bill Clinton pushed the execution of a mentally retarded man when he was trying to harden his image in 1992. John McCain, competing with ultra-right winger JD Hayworth in the Republican primary for his senate seat this year, has turned so often on so many issues — notably immigration and whether or not he's a maverick — that he seems to be revolving aimlessly.
The Arizona law, as far as any polling can be trusted, seems to be popular. Which is not surprising. It's shamelessly populist. And the game in this year's elections seems to be to prove to the electorate that you're tougher, angrier, more reactionary and, frankly, dumber than the next candidate. Take a look at some of the campaign ads coming out of Alabama to see what we mean.
Progress? They hate progress. Rhode Island State Representative Peter Palumbo is behind that state's move towards demanding papers. He admits that passing such legislation in RI is "difficult" because "we have a lot of progressives." How dare they stand in the way of regression.