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2009 State Immigration Laws

Immigrant Policy Project

2009 State Laws Related to Immigrants and Immigration
January 1 – December 31, 2009

Statue of LibertyImmigration remains on the backburner in Congress, but states continue forging ahead with record levels of immigrant-related legislation.

As of November 20, 2009, state legislatures enacted 222 laws and adopted 131 resolutions in 48 states, for a total of 353 laws and resolutions nationwide. Of these, 20 were vetoed by governors. In 2009, approximately 1,500 bills were considered by all 50 state legislatures. No laws or resolutions were enacted in Alaska or Massachusetts relating to immigrants.

The top areas of interest in 2009 are identification/driver’s license with 46 laws enacted, followed by health (28) and education (27). In 2008, the top three areas were identification/driver's licenses (30), employment (18) and education (12). Human trafficking laws tripled, and health and education laws doubled in 2009 compared to 2008.

The number of resolutions doubled from 64 to 131 compared to 2008. Most celebrate America's ethnic heritage and others applaud immigrants or programs that serve refugees or immigrants. Twelve resolutions urge Congress to: support funding; expedite naturalizations; change requirements for enhanced driver's licenses; promote travel to the United States; permanently extend e-verify; address delays at ports of entry on the Texas-Mexican border; and grant waivers for an employer sponsored work program.

Examples of laws under topics tracked in this report: Wisconsin became the 11th state to offer instate tuition to certain unauthorized immigrant students. Illinois prohibits state and local government from requiring employers to use E-verify, while Hawaii authorizes sanctions for employers hiring unauthorized workers on public works projects. Colorado, Connecticut and Minnesota extended health care to legal immigrant women and children under the new federal option. Florida created a statewide task force and Rhode Island created an interagency task force on human trafficking. Indiana provides for an extension of a driver’s license for a temporary immigrant serving in the armed forces. In law enforcement, Utah grants the attorney general authority to administer and coordinate a multi-agency task force that combats violent crime and other major felonies related to illegal immigration. Missouri appropriated funds for naturalization assistance for certain immigrants. Three states (Georgia, Missouri and Nebraska) passed omnibus or multi-issue legislation laws addressing employment, law enforcement and verification of lawful presence for public benefits. In public benefits, Oklahoma’s act relates to custody and guardianship of children, including unaccompanied refugee minors.

State laws related to immigration have increased dramatically in recent years:

  • In 2005, 300 bills were introduced; 38 laws were enacted and 6 vetoed.
  • In 2006, activity doubled: 570 bills were introduced; 84 laws were enacted; and 6 vetoed.
  • In 2007, activity tripled: 1,562 bills were introduced; 240 laws were enacted; and 12 vetoed.
  • In 2008, 1,305 bills were considered; 206 were enacted; 3 were vetoed.

This report provides brief summaries of state laws enacted in 2009 that 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.

Summaries of all enacted laws and resolutions are available online at http://www.ncsl.org/documents/immig/2009ImmigLaws.pdf

 

Enacted Laws in 2008 v. 2009
 

 
Year End 2008
Year End 2009
Main Topics
Number of Laws Enacted
Number of Laws Enacted
Education
12
27
Employment
19
21
Health
11
28
Human Trafficking
5
16
ID/Driver's Licenses and Other Licenses
32
46
Law Enforcement
12
16
Legal Services
2
 
Miscellaneous
36
46
Omnibus/Multi-Issue Measures
3
3
Public Benefits
9
15
Voting
1
4
Total Laws
142
222
Resolutions
64
131
 
 
 
Total laws and resolutions
206
353
 
 
 
Vetoed
3
20
 
 
Total enacted
203
333

 

EDUCATION (27)

Twenty-seven laws were enacted in 13 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, North Dakota, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Three laws were vetoed.

These laws generally address eligibility for in-state tuition, scholarships or student loans, English language acquisition and access, and certification for foreign educators. Some laws establish commissions and task forces and include immigrant representatives. Wisconsin’s budget law includes a provision permitting a tuition exemption for a person who is a citizen of a country other than the United States if that person meets all of the following requirements; 1) graduated from a state high school in the state or received an equivalency; 2) continuously present in the state for at least 3 years; 3) enrolls in an institution and provides that institution with proof that the person has filed or will file an application for a permanent resident visa with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as soon as the person is eligible to do so. Oklahoma provides for a study and assessment of student testing and data systems, disaggregating the results by gender, race, ethnicity, disability status, migrant status, English proficiency and status as economically disadvantaged. Texas permits a student’s absence from school for reasons related to applying for citizenship or taking part in a U.S. naturalization ceremony.
 

EMPLOYMENT (21)

Twenty-one laws were enacted in 12 states: California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. Six laws were vetoed.

These laws relate to hiring unauthorized workers, employment eligibility verification requirements and penalties. These laws also include measures on unemployment benefits and worker’s compensation. Hawaii authorizes license revocation for contractors who employ an unauthorized worker on a public works project. Illinois urges employers to check the state’s Department of Labor website for information on E-verify accuracy and prohibits state or local government from requiring employers to use E-verify. Maine adds migrant and seasonal farm workers to the law providing protections for forestry workers. Tennessee creates a Class A misdemeanor offense for a person to knowingly provide false identification for the purposes of obtaining or maintaining employment. Tennessee instructs the Labor and Workforce Development Department to establish the "We Want To Learn English" initiative. Virginia limited liability companies may be canceled for actions of its members or managers constituting a pattern or practice of employing unauthorized aliens in the Commonwealth.


HEALTH (28) 

Twenty-eight laws were enacted in 13 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

These laws generally address eligibility for health care benefits, migrant health, and the licensing of health care professionals. Three states (Colorado, Connecticut and Minnesota) extended health care to legal immigrant women and children under the new federal option. Nevada established a Physician Visa Waiver Program related to J-1 nonimmigrant visa waivers.  Texas created an advisory committee related to health care interpreters.


HUMAN TRAFFICKING (16)

Sixteen laws were enacted in 10 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington. One law was vetoed.

These laws provide for penalties and definitions relating to human trafficking, human smuggling and involuntary servitude. Several laws address destruction of passports or immigration documents. Florida created a statewide task force and Rhode Island created an interagency task force. Illinois and Texas provide for assistance to victims. Washington requires domestic employers of foreign workers to disclose certain information and requires the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy to supply the health and social services regulatory bodies with information on methods of recognizing victims of human trafficking.


ID / DRIVER’S LICENSES AND OTHER LICENSES (46)

Forty-six laws were enacted in 33 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. Four bills were vetoed.

These laws relate to citizenzhip or legal immigrant status for identification and driver’s licenses, including laws related to REAL ID (27 laws) and professional or business licenses (16 laws) and firearm, hunting/fishing licenses or other licenses (3 laws). Nevada provides that certain applicants may authorize the DMV to forward personal information necessary for registration with the Selective Service System. New York extended for one year a waiver of citizenship or permanent resident alien status for licensure as a veterinarian. Indiana provides for an extension of a driver’s license for a temporary immigrant serving in the armed forces.


LAW ENFORCEMENT (16)

Sixteen laws were enacted in 11 states: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. One bill was vetoed by the governor.

These laws generally deal with immigrant detention and deportation, victims of family violence and law enforcement officer responsibilities. Connecticut’s law requires the establishment of uniform protocols for treating victims of family violence whose immigration status is questionable; addresses family violence in immigrant communities and eligibility for federal T Visas for victims of human trafficking and federal U Visas for unauthorized immigrants who are victims of family violence and other crimes; and allows deportation by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for certain convicted aliens who have served at least half their sentence. New Hampshire and Oklahoma allow release of prisoners to ICE under certain conditions, while Oregon prohibits pardoning an individual subject to an outstanding deportation order without an agreement with ICE. Utah grants the attorney general authority to administer and coordinate a multi-agency task force that combats violent crime and other major felonies related to illegal immigration.


MISCELLANEOUS (46)

Forty-six laws were enacted in 26 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Four bills were vetoed.

This section includes 36 budget and appropriation laws that fund refugee, migrant or SCAAP programs, or other services provided to immigrants; other miscellaneous laws provide for activities such as immigration related commissions and studies. Connecticut allows ribbons and medals to be awarded to foreign nationals who aided the armed forces of the United States during periods of war. Georgia’s law relates to local government and immigration verification requirements and prohibits immigration sanctuary policies by local government entities. Louisiana created an advisory council to propose ways to eliminate obstacles to the effective delivery of governmental services to Latin Americans.


OMNIBUS / MULTI-ISSUE LEGISLATION (3)

Three laws were enacted in Georgia, Missouri, and Nebraska addressing education, employment, law enforcement and public benefits.

Georgia’s law relates to verification of new employees' work status, law enforcement, and verification of lawful presence for public benefits. Every public employer (including municipalities and counties), contractors and subcontractors must verify employment eligibility of all newly hired employees with the federal work authorization program. No employer or agency or political subdivision shall be subject to lawsuit or liability arising from any act to comply with these requirements. Related to law enforcement: if a foreign national is charged with a felony, driving under the influence, driving without a license, or with a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, the jail officer shall make a reasonable effort to verify lawful status. Related to verification for public benefits, the act defines public benefits, requires agencies administering public benefits to seek federal authorization to use SAVE, and requires an annual report from the attorney general. Effective January 1, 2010.

Missouri’s law addresses education, public benefits and employment. Related to education, the law prohibits students who are unlawfully present from receiving certain types of financial aid. It specifies that postsecondary education public benefits, municipal permits and contracts or agreements between public utility providers and their customers will not be considered public benefits. The law specifies that the requirement for certain businesses to participate in a federal work authorization program will not apply after the federal government discontinues or fails to authorize or implement the program. Public contractors are required to provide affidavits of participation in the federal work authorization program annually. Onsite employees of a contractor or subcontractor on a public works project must complete a 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration construction safety program or similar program.

Nebraska’s law requires verification of lawful presence in the United States to receive public benefits and use of SAVE for verification; requires every public employer and every public contractor to use a federal immigration verification system; and prohibits participation in state retirement unless a citzen or qualified alien and lawfully present. Effective October 1, 2009.


PUBLIC BENEFITS (15)

Fifteen laws were enacted in 13 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Oregon. One law was vetoed.

These laws relate to immigrant eligibility and documentation requirements for benefits. Several laws related to eligibility for adoption assistance or child care assistance. Oklahoma’s act relates to custody and guardianship of children, including unaccompanied refugee minors. Illinois extended aid to aged, blind and disabled refugees and asylees ineligible for federal SSI.


VOTING (4)

Four laws were enacted in Georgia, New Hampshire and Washington.

These laws relate to voter registration and voter citizenship affidavits.


RESOLUTIONS (131)

There were 131 resolutions and memorials adopted in 19 states: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

These resolutions and memorials generally honor immigrants for their contributions. Most celebrate America's ethnic heritage and others applaud immigrants or programs that serve refugees or immigrants. Twelve resolutions urge Congress to: support funding; expedite naturalizations; change requirements for enhanced driver's licenses; promote travel to the United States; permanently extend e-verify; address delays at ports of entry on the Texas-Mexican border; and grant waivers for an employer sponsored work program. 

 

Powered By Statenet
Published: December 1, 2009
 
Edited by:  Ann Morse
Program Director, Immigrant Policy Project
National Conference of State Legislatures
202-624-400
www.ncsl.org/programs/immig
   
Reviewers:   
Sheri Steisel, Senior Federal Affairs Counsel, NCSL
Michael Bird, Senior Federal Affairs Counsel, NCSL
Carl Tubbesing, Deputy Executive Director, NCSL
   
Contributors:    Dirk Hegen; Jonathan Jakubowski; Kelly Foster; and Rosa Covarrubias NCSL Washington office
   
This research was made possible by the generous support of Carnegie Corporation of New York.
   
   

 

Previous Immigrant Policy Project reports:

The 2008 report is available at:
http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=13058

The 2007 report is available at:
http://www.ncsl.org/Default.aspx?TabId=13106

The 2006 report is available at:
http://www.ncsl.org/Default.aspx?TabId=13137

The 2005 report is available at:
http://www.ncsl.org/Default.aspx?TabId=13133
 

 

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