Immigration Policy Project

2009 Immigration-Related Bills and Resolutions in the States (January-March 2009)

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State legislatures continue to tackle immigration issues at an unprecedented rate. In the first quarter of 2009, state legislators in all 50 states introduced 1,040 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees. This is comparable to the record numbers of bills and resolutions introduced during the first quarter of 2008, with 44 states considering 1,149 bills and resolutions pertaining to immigrants.

As of March 31, 2009, twenty-five states have enacted 35 laws and adopted 40 resolutions. For the same time period in 2008, twenty-six states had enacted 44 laws and adopted 38 resolutions.
State laws related to immigration have increased dramatically in recent years:

  • In 2005, 300 bills were introduced and 38 laws were enacted.
  • In 2006, activity doubled: 570 bills were introduced and 84 laws were enacted.
  • In 2007, activity tripled: 1,562 bills were introduced and 240 laws were enacted.
  • In 2008, activity remained consistent: 1,305 bills were introduced and 206 laws were enacted.

As in past years, the top three areas of interest remain employment, identification/drivers licenses and law enforcement. States also are considering new policy approaches in the education, health and benefits sectors.

This report provides a first look at introduced legislation in 2008 and presents selected examples of enacted laws and adopted resolutions. The NCSL report to be released in July will identify and summarize in more detail all enacted legislation from January-June.

Legislative proposals included in this overview address legal immigrants, migrant and seasonal workers, refugees or unauthorized immigrants. Terms used in this report by and large reflect the terms used in state legislation. In some state legislative language, unauthorized immigrants are also described as illegal or undocumented immigrants or aliens.