Task Force on Immigration



This task force was created in early 2006 primarily to tackle the job of crafting a policy statement to guide NCSL's immigration lobbying efforts with the federal government. The policy has given NCSL substantial credibility on immigration. Since adoption of the statement, the task force has been immersed in the organization's efforts to influence the final shape of national immigration legislation.  In addition, the task force has been successful in focusing attention on the unprecedented state legislative efforts to address immigration issues.

NCSL Task Force On Immigration & the States
Co-Chair: Senator Mo Denis, Nevada
Co-Chair: Senator John C. Watkins, Virginia

NCSL Contacts: Gilberto Mendoza (D.C.)  Ann Morse (D.C.) 

Members & Working Groups

Senator Steve Smith
Senator Anthony J. Cannella
Assemblymember Adam Gray
Senator Ricardo Lara
Senator Ellen S. Roberts
Representative Joseph E. Miro
Senator Rene Garcia
Representative David E. Heaton
Representative Travis Couture-Lovelady
Representative John J. Rubin
Representative Jay R. Kaufman
Senator Melisa Franzen
Katherine B. Schill, House of Representatives
Representative Thomas U. Reynolds II
Senator Mo Denis
New Mexico
Senator Michael S. Sanchez
New York
Assemblymember Felix W. Ortiz Jr.
Jeffrey M. Wice, State Assembly
North Carolina
Ben Stanley
Representative Charles L. Ortega
Representative Harry Brooks
Senator Curtis S. Bramble
Representative Susan D. Duckworth
Senator John C. Watkins
Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos


NCSL Fall Executive Committee Meeting | Reno, NV |  September 2014

Attracting and Retaining Foreign Talent to Invest in the Economy
Joint Meeting with Task Force on International Relations

Foreign students who attend U.S. colleges and universities on the F-1 visa bring millions of dollars each year to local economies, but regional leaders can do more to capitalize on students’ connections to fast-growing foreign markets to increase local jobs and investment. Neil Ruiz will discuss his new groundbreaking report: "The Geography of Foreign Students in U.S. Higher Education: Origins and Destinations," which tracks the local origins, size and growth rate of the foreign student population on a metropolitan level.


  • Neil Ruiz, Brookings Institution (for his presentation click here)
  • The Hon. Dr. Ingo Wolf, MdL, member of the North Rhine Westphalia Legislature, Free Democratic Party (FDP), Germany

Briefing on Higher Education and Workforce Development
Joint Meeting with Task Force on International Relations

Leaders from Nevada’s educational institutions will highlight their research and outreach programs to attract local, regional, national and international talent. A member of the German delegation will describe the German education and apprenticeship program, its successes and challenges and future workforce needs. This timely discussion of workforce development and job creation will occur as legislators consider policies in education and job training to attract new business and support economic development in their states.


  • Frank Woodbeck, executive director, Nevada College Collaborative, Nevada System of Higher Education
  • Dr. Manos Maragakis, dean, College of Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno
  • The Hon. Clemens Reif, MdL, member of the Hesse Legislature, Christian Democratic Union (CDU); President of Partnership of Parliaments, Germany

NCSL Legislative Summit | Minneapolis, MN | August 2014

From Minnesota to Mumbai: Economic Competitiveness and Immigration

How can “immigrant capital” counter baby boomer retirement, support trade and economic development, and contribute to scientific and technological innovation?  How can legislators better assess the economic and fiscal impact of immigrants in their local communities?  Hear from business and political leaders on the competition for global talent and how to reform the nation's immigration system to benefit the American economy. 


  • Senator Curtis Bramble, Utah
  • Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, Nevada
  • Mike Fernandez, corporate vice president, Corporate Affairs, Cargill, Minnesota
  • Matt Walker, vice president, Government Affairs, National Restaurant Association, Washington, D.C.

NCSL Western States Fiscal Leaders Meeting | Park City, UT | June 2014

Demographics, Economics & Immigration: What’s the Bottom Line?

Immigration affects state legislatures across a broad spectrum of policies – from education to transportation, from health care to law enforcement. Recently, state legislators have identified the need for credible research data to effectively assess immigrants’ impacts on the economy, state budgets, and tax revenues.  What is the role of immigrants in local workforce supply and demand? How can state level reports – both fiscal and economic - be more robust and comprehensive?  This session presents information on national and Western states’ responses to immigration challenges and the unique perspective and experience of Western states. 


  • Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, co-chair


  • Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of Immigration Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), Washington, D.C.
  • Michele Waslin, manager, Immigration and the States, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, D.C.

NCSL Winter Executive Meeting | Austin, TX | January 2014

Task Force on Immigration and the States Business Meeting & Briefing


  • Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, co-chair


  • Ann Morse, co-director, Task Force on Immigration and the States | State Update: Overview of immigration trends and enacted legislation at the state level.
  • Sheri Steisel, co-director, Task Force on Immigration and the States | Federal Update: Overview of federal immigration activities and what you can expect in 2014.

The International Economic Climate


  • Speaker Terie Norelli, New Hampshire


  • Dr. James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations & Professor of Government, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin (former executive director of the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress)

Migration, Commerce, Trade Relations and Economic Development between the U.S. and Mexico.


  • Juan Carlos Lara-Armienta, head of Section, Regional and Hispanic Affairs, Embassy of MexicoRelevant factsheets for the bilateral relationship are available, in English and Spanish here.

NCSL Legislative Summit | Atlanta, GA | August 2013

Task Force on Immigration and the States: Business Meeting and Coke, Wine & Cheese Reception

Task Force members discussed the latest news on the progress of immigration reform in Congress and potential impacts on the states.  NCSL staff provided highlights from the 2013 report on state immigration laws.


  • Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, Washington
  • Senator John Watkins, Virginia​

Immigration: Finally A Federal Fix?

Co-Sponsored by the Task Force on Immigration and the States, Health & Human Services Committee,  Law & Criminal Justice Committee, and Legal Services Staff Section

On June 27, 2013, the Senate passed S.744 by a vote of 68-32.  The legislation addresses border security; reauthorizes the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP); provides for earned legalization of unauthorized immigrants; creates new temporary worker visas; and improves the legal immigration system.  The legislation does not include state impact aid to offset the increased costs for education and health care for new immigrant populations.  In the House, Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte (Va.) took up individual bills on border security, E-Verify, agricultural guest workers and skills based visas, and state law enforcement.  

For this session, Charles Kuck, a nationally-recognized immigration lawyer and President of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, explained the key provisions in S.744 of relevance to states, and the potential impact of the pending House bills on state laws, policies, services and budgets. The presentation was followed by a conversation among state legislators on key immigration issues and whether the bill addresses those challenges.


  • Charles Kuck, Kuck Immigration Partners LLC, GeorgiaIn this interview, Charles Kuck, managing partner, Kuck Immigration Partners LLC, provides highlights and the potential impacts on states of the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill, S.744, which passed the Senate in June by a vote of 68-32.
  • Senator Curtis Bramble, Utah
  • Senator Mo Denis, Nevada
  • Senator Ellen Roberts, Colorado
  • Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, Washington

NCSL Task Force on Immigration and the States Meeting | Washington, D.C. |  June 2013

Governor Jeb Bush and Governor Haley Barbour: Immigration and State Impacts

The Task Force on Immigration and the States joined Governors Jeb Bush and Haley Barbour for a conversation on immigration reform. Drawing from their own experiences as governors, each provided a unique perspective on immigration and how reform legislation might affect the states, the nation and the Republican Party. Copies of Gov. Bush’s recently released book “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution” were available for purchase and signing directly following the panel discussion. The event is part of BPC’s Immigration Task Force, which is led by Governor Barbour, former Governor Ed Rendell and former Secretaries Condoleezza Rice and Henry Cisneros.

Lunch briefing with NCSL staff:  Federal Update on Immigration Reform


  • Susan Frederick, senior federal affairs counsel
  • Sheri Steisel, senior federal affairs counsel

Briefing at the White House

Working Dinner at Art & Soul


  • Haley Barbour, former governor, Mississippi, and co-chair, Bipartisan Policy Center Immigration Task Force
  • Becky Tallent, director, Immigration Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center 

Presentations on Immigration, Labor Markets and the Economy

States have authority in immigration matters in an array of policy arenas from public education to health care to social services to law enforcement.  A number of national and state level studies have examined costs and benefits of immigrants, but more recently, studies have begun considering the current and potential role that immigrants serve in the economy in terms of workforce and economic development.  The speakers discussed cost-benefit studies as well as these broader economic impacts and the potential impact of immigration reform on states.


  • Susan Martin, director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University, and former Executive Director of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (1990-97)
  • Randy Capps, senior policy analyst and demographer, Migration Policy Institute
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president, American Action Forum, former director, Congressional Budget Office​

NCSL Spring Forum | Denver, CO | May 2013

Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Immigration

Joint session with Budgets & Revenue and the Law and Criminal Justice Committees and the NCSL’s Task Force on Immigration and the States

States have taken a larger role in immigration in recent years, partly in frustration at federal inaction and recognition that immigrants have wide-ranging effects on state programs, budgets and economies. Immigrants tend to impact state budgets in human services, health, education and law enforcement, while the federal government reaps the lion's share of taxes on their income. This session explored how changing demographics and immigration affect state fiscal impacts, as well as broader economic impacts such as job creation and business development that depend on foreign workers.


  • James Johnson, North Carolina | In this interview, James Johnson, Ph.D, highlights the distinction between the fiscal and economic impacts of immigrants.

Sponsored By: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

NCSL Fall Forum | Phoenix, AZ | December 2010

State Immigration Laws: Crossing the Constitutional Border?

State immigration-related legislation remains at an all time high. As state lawmakers test their role in immigration policy, they’re finding their laws under review in federal courts. Explore the debate around Arizona's 2007 worksite enforcement law currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as issues surrounding in-state tuition for immigrants, Arizona's 2010 immigration enforcement law, and the latest trends in legal and illegal immigration.


  • Representative Joni M. Cutler, South Dakota


  • Representative John Kavanagh, Arizona
  • Senator Mee Moua, Minnesota 
  • Senator Curtis S. Bramble, Utah
  • Kathleen Campbell Walker, Cox/Smith, Texas

NCSL Regional Conference on Immigrants and the States: AZ, CO, NV, UT | Denver, CO | December 2005

Welcoming Remarks and Introduction to conference and its goals: 

  • Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Colorado
  • Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald,  Colorado 
  • Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, President-Elect, NCSL

The Immigration Crisis:  Past and Present

With 11 million unauthorized immigrants, the nation’s immigration system is badly in need of reform.  Ms. Martin will discuss the lessons from the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and reimbursement of state costs (SLIAG).  How will federal proposals address the current problems through border and worksite enforcement, legalization and temporary worker programs?  What are the likely impacts on states?


  • Susan Martin, Executive Director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University and former executive director, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform   

Demographic Trends:  A Look at Economic and Labor Effects of Immigrants

This session will examine regional population trends; such as aging populations, employer needs, in-migration, and push-pull factors with Mexico.  This session will include a discussion of economic and labor effects of immigrants in the U.S.


Roberto Suro, Director, Pew Hispanic Center

“Will Immigration Be Reformed?” 

A discussion of the politics, potential, and pitfalls of immigration in Congress.

Speakers will include Angelo Amador, Director of Immigration Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a representative from the Bush Administration

How Can States Respond? 

The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration policy (the terms and conditions for living and working in the United States).  This session examines the areas where state government and services are affected by federal policies, and efforts to communicate these concerns and challenges to Congress and the Administration as federal immigration reform moves forward. 


  • Sheri Steisel, NCSL Human Services Committee Director

Legislators’ Roundtable: States Report on Immigrant Issues in their States


  • Ron Snell, Director of Economic, Fiscal & Human Resources, NCSL


  • Senate President John Valentine, Utah
  • Representative Russell Pearce, Arizona
  • Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, Nevada
  • Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Colorado
  • Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, Colorado  

NCSL thanks our supporters for their contributions: The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Colorado Trust, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce


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