2011 Immigration-Related Laws, Bills and Resolutions in the States: Jan. 1–March 31, 2011 

Contents

NCSL Resources

Immigration form

State legislatures continue to grapple with immigration issues at an unprecedented rate. In the first quarter of 2011, state legislators in the 50 states and Puerto Rico introduced 1,538 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees. This number surpasses the first quarter of 2010, when 1,180 bills were introduced. 

As in past years, employment, identification/driver’s licenses and law enforcement remain top areas of interest for immigrant-related bill introductions. With passage of federal health care reform, however, health also emerged as a top contender. This quarter, the number of health-related bills was more than double those introduced during the same quarter last year. Following last year’s example of Arizona’s SB 1070, omnibus bill introductions also increased in 2011. More information about these omnibus bills can be found here.

As of March 31, 2011, 26 states enacted 63 laws and adopted 78 resolutions, totaling 141 measures. As of March 31, one additional bill was vetoed in New Jersey. Among enacted laws, the top areas of interest were health, identification/driver’s licenses, law enforcement and resolutions. During the first quarter of 2010, 34 states had enacted 71 laws and adopted 87 resolutions, for a total of 156. An additional 37 bills were awaiting governors’ signatures.

  • Health: Most states are requiring that participants in state health benefit exchanges be U.S. citizens or lawfully present immigrants.
  • Identification/driver’s licenses: States continue to restrict nonresidents’ eligibility for driver’s, commercial and trade licenses.
  • Law enforcement: Virginia established a criminal information exchange program with willing states that share a border with Canada or Mexico in order to share information about drugs, gangs, unlawful presence and terrorism. 
  • Resolutions: Utah authorized studies to be conducted related to the tax impact of immigration legislation and state employees' sharing immigration-related information within and across state agencies and with employers.

This spring, Utah’s package of immigration-related laws gained significant attention. HB 116, HB 466 and HB 497 were signed by the governor on March 15, 2011. The omnibus HB 116 addresses employment, identification and verification, human trafficking and law enforcement. It establishes a temporary guest worker program and seeks federal waivers to implement the program by July 1, 2013, or within 120 days of receiving a federal waiver. HB 467 addresses enforcement, REAL ID and public benefits, and HB 466 establishes a Utah Commission on Immigration and Migration to help facilitate integration of immigrants in Utah. More information on Utah’s laws can be found here.

This report provides a first look at introduced 2011 legislation and presents selected examples of enacted laws and adopted resolutions. The NCSL report scheduled for release in August will summarize in detail all enacted legislation from January through June, including Georgia’s omnibus legislation (HB 87) and Maryland’s DREAM act (SB 167).

Legislative proposals included in this overview address legal immigrants, refugees, migrant and seasonal workers 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 also are described as illegal or undocumented immigrants or aliens.
 

Proposed State Immigration Legislation, by Policy Arena

As of March 31, 2011  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Source: NCSL Immigrant Policy Project, 2011.

 

Proposed State Legislation by Policy Arena, First Quarter 2011 and 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Source: NCSL Immigrant Policy Project, 2011.

NOTE: Below are general descriptions of legislation introduced from January 1-March 31, 2011 and selected examples of enacted laws and adopted resolutions. The next report scheduled to be released in August 2011 will include all enacted laws and resolutions for January-June.  Previous state immigration reports can be found here.

BUDGET

There were 45 bills introduced in 20 state legislatures: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

These bills generally appropriate funds for refugee resettlement; law enforcement activities for state and federal immigration law, including border security; immigrant integration, including job training, English language classes and naturalization expenses; and health and education services for migrant workers and their children. Some bills change income tax rates for legal immigrants and reimburse municipalities for costs incurred to provide services to undocumented immigrants.

Enacted

California SB 70 (enacted March 24): This law relates to funding for school staff and facilities, subsidized child care, school operations and supplies, and education-related benefits programs. The law stipulates funding for activities, development and care for children of migrant workers.

EDUCATION

There were 140 bills were introduced in 37 state legislatures: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Most of these bills address lawful residency requirements for in-state tuition, financial aid and other education benefits. Several bills require reporting of status and general information on unlawfully present students who are attending public schools. Some bills seek to facilitate access to education for unauthorized immigrant students through residency requirements and public school graduation. A few bills bar unlawfully present people from attending public universities. (Note: Maryland’s DREAM Act, SB 167, is not included in this report because the legislature passed it after March 31, and the bill was signed on May 10.)

Enacted

Utah SB 46 (enacted March 31): This act classifies aliens who are authorized to reside in the United States for a temporary length of time as nonresidents who are not eligible for in-state tuition. Aliens granted immigrant or permanent resident status are eligible for resident student status.

Virginia HB 1861 (enacted March 10): This act establishes that an alien who has an immigration visa or is classified as a political refugee can qualify for in-state tuition. If the alien has a student or other temporary visa however, he or she is not eligible for Virginia domicile or in-state tuition.

EMPLOYMENT

There were 279 bills were introduced in 44 state legislatures: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

These bills require public and private employers to use some form of work and employment benefit authorization, mostly E-Verify, and establish penalties for businesses that employ unauthorized immigrants.

Enacted

Virginia HB 1859/S 1049 (enacted March 25): This law requires that employers with more than an average of 50 employees for the previous 12 months that enter into a contract in excess of $50,000 with any state agency shall use E-Verify. The law debars employers that fail to comply, but restores their eligibility upon compliance with the E-Verify program.

HEALTH

There were 169 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Most health-related bills address eligibility criteria for immigrants and immigrant children for health benefits, especially eligibility for participation in state health benefit exchanges. Several bills facilitate access to health care facilities or providers for communities that are likely to have high immigrant or migrant populations.

Enacted

Arkansas HB 1428 (enacted March 16): This law stipulates that a person eligible for child-only health insurance benefits must be lawfully present in the United States.

Illinois HB 5420 (enacted Jan. 25): This law establishes requirements for eligibility for Illinois’ health benefit programs, which includes verification of state residency, letters from employers and other valid documentation of income. Pregnant women are exempt from this requirement.

Nebraska L 225 (enacted March 10): This law requires that only citizens and those lawfully present or nonimmigrants be eligible for a credential under Nebraska’s Uniform Credential Act.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

There were 39 bills introduced in 19 state legislatures: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

These bills stipulate penalties to discourage human and sex trafficking. Several pieces of legislation establish task forces to study and prevent trafficking. Some bills also provide services and facilitate restitution for victims of trafficking.

To Governor

Georgia HB 200: This bill discourages trafficking of people for labor or sexual servitude and provides greater protections to those subject to such crimes. It also provides compensation to the victim and other federal assistance for certain people.

IDS AND DRIVER'S LICENSES

There were 171 bills were introduced in 40 state legislatures: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

These bills generally restrict the types of documents that can be used to obtain a driver’s license, create time limits for driver’s licenses for legal permanent residents, require proof of citizenship for handgun licenses, restrict t implementation of the REAL ID act, and require citizenship to obtain licenses for work in certain trades such as heating-ventilating-air conditioning or locksmith. Some bills require citizenship for fishing and hunting licenses, licenses for social workers and professional counselors, business licenses and marriage certificates. Other bills with a wider scope restrict the types of identification that can be used to obtain any state-issued license and specify the allowable uses of information gathered in providing state-issued licenses.

Enacted

Virginia HB 1651 (enacted March 23): This law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel any license, permit or special identification card it has issued to an individual if it is notified by a federal government agency that the individual is neither a citizen of nor legally present in the United States.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

There were 267 bills introduced in 42 state legislatures: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Many of these bills address determination of lawful status upon a lawful stop or arrest, and authorizes immigration law enforcement responsibilities for state and local law enforcement agencies and court proceedings, including release and deportation requirements. Several bills include cooperative agreements between local law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, sexual offender registration requirements, and specification of felonies in which illegal immigrants are involved.

Enacted

Virginia HB 2330 (enacted March 24):This law establishes a criminal information exchange program with willing states that share a border with Canada or Mexico. Information areas include drugs, gangs, unlawful presence and terrorism. It also requires cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies.

Arizona SB 1117 (enacted Feb. 7):This law allows the speaker of the House and Senate president to direct counsel to initiate a legal proceeding or appear on the chambers' behalf regarding any challenge to SB 1070 in a state or federal court.

Mississippi SB 2032 (enacted March 14): This law stipulates that anyone with temporary or permanent resident status or who is employed or attending school in Mississippi and has been convicted of an offense must register with the appropriate agency and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

South Dakota SB 32 (enacted March 10): This law requires documents pertaining to a sex offender's immigration status to be included in a sex offender's registration with law enforcement agencies.

MISCELLANEOUS

One hundred eighteen bills were introduced in 31 state legislatures and Puerto Rico: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Puerto Rico.

These bills cover a variety of topics, but many relate to issues such as protections for immigrant children, including changes to juvenile proceedings and child support payments; changes to state and local tax rates; regulations on notaries public to protect consumers; requirements for state citizenship; regulations related to enrollment in the selective service; language access issues; and eligibility to purchase alcoholic beverages. Some bills also authorize studies, task forces or commissions on immigration.

Enacted

Utah HB 76 (enacted March 31): This law directs the Constitutional Defense Council to evaluate and respond to federal law and creates a Federalism Subcommittee within the Constitutional Defense Council to evaluate federal law. Utah's Constitutional Defense Council is to evaluate and respond to federal law, including naturalization laws.

Virginia SB 1037 (enacted March 26): This law eliminates independent living as a permanency goal option for foster care plans approved on or after July 1, 2011, except in cases involving children admitted to the United States as refugees or asylees who are age 16 or older.

OMNIBUS

Fifty-one bills were introduced in 30 state legislatures: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

These omnibus bills include several topics in one bill, such as immigration law enforcement, employment verification, and verification of lawful status for public benefits. Two omnibus bills were enacted in Utah (HB 116 and HB 497) that seek to balance immigration enforcement with facilitating a legal immigrant workforce. Many omnibus immigration bills introduced in 2011 contain law enforcement provisions similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, such as requiring officers to verify immigration status during a lawful stop, requiring immigrants to carry alien registration documents, and adding state penalties for harboring, transporting and/or smuggling illegal immigrants. Other omnibus bills follow examples set in previous years, addressing verification of legal status for public benefits and driver’s licenses, use of E-Verify by public or private employers, and immigration law enforcement provisions such as authorizing agreements with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Two bills introduced in Massachusetts, SB 1560 and SB 1603, require studies to be completed on the cost of implementing each bill.

Enacted

Utah HB 116 (signed March 15):The omnibus HB 116 addresses employment, identification and verification, human trafficking and law enforcement. It establishes a temporary guest worker program for unauthorized immigrants and seeks federal waivers to implement the program by July 1, 2013, or within 120 days of receiving a federal waiver, whichever is sooner. Those eligible for a guest worker permit must be older than age 18 or have parent or guardian permission; have worked or lived in Utah before May 10, 2011; provide regularly updated contact information; provide proof of work within 30 days of permit issuance; agree to a criminal background check, and not have been convicted of or pled guilty to a serious felony; provide evidence that the individual would not be inadmissible based on public health grounds; have health insurance; and hold a driving privilege card. Application for the two-year permit requires paying a fine of $1,000 if the undocumented individual entered legally but is not currently in compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act or $2,500 if the undocumented individual entered illegally. Permit holders must make good faith efforts to become proficient in English.

Utah HB 497 (signed March 15):The omnibus HB 497 addresses law enforcement, REAL ID and public benefits. The law requires that an officer verify the immigration status of anyone arrested for a felony or a Class A misdemeanor and anyone booked for class B or C misdemeanors. It clarifies when passengers in a vehicle where the operator has been detained also may be questioned and their immigration status verified. It requires verification of immigration status regarding application for public services or benefits provided by a state or local government agency or subcontractor, except as exempted by federal law. This bill does not implement or authorize the federal REAL ID Act to any extent not currently provided by state law.

PUBLIC BENEFITS

There were 109 bills were introduced in 36 state legislatures: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

These bills relate to individuals and their eligibility to receive public benefits. Most bills require proof of lawful presence in the United States, stipulate that agencies must verify eligibility, and apply penalties for immigrants who provide false documentation for eligibility. Several bills discuss adoption procedures, particularly in cases where the child is born or adopted abroad.
Enacted

Iowa HB 45 (enacted March 7): This law prohibits providing public benefits to people who are unlawfully present in the United States.

VOTING

There were 50 bills introduced in 21 state legislatures: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.

These bills generally require proof of citizenship and/or photo identification to register to vote and/or vote at the polling place and require proof of citizenship by candidates for public office. Some bills enable resident non-citizens to vote in municipal elections, make it a state crime for non-citizens to vote, and require the state agency to investigate the citizenship status of registered voters and revoke the voter registration of non-citizens.

RESOLUTIONS

There were 141 resolutions considered in 36 state legislatures: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Resolutions and memorials declare the intent of a chamber or a full state legislature regarding specific immigration issues. Resolutions considered between January 1 and March 31 honor the contributions of various ethnic groups, organizations and individuals. Several resolutions voice support for comprehensive immigration reform or changes to the visa process, and others inaugurate studies on the effect on specific states of illegal immigration.

Adopted

Utah HJR 24 (adopted March 10): This appropriations resolution authorizes studies on immigration issues. It specifically authorizes studies related to the tax impact of immigration legislation and state employees' sharing of immigration-related information within and across state agencies and with employers.

Vermont HJR 14 (adopted March 29): This joint resolution urges Congress and the U.S. Departments of Labor and of Homeland Security to authorize H-2A visas for 12-month agricultural workers.
 


 

 

Prepared by:
April Carter, Spring Fellow, Immigrant Policy Project, NCSL
Marie Lawrence, Emerson National Hunger Fellow, NCSL
Ann Morse, Program Director, Immigrant Policy Project, NCSL
 

Reviewers:
Sheri Steisel, Senior Federal Affairs Counsel, NCSL
Molly Ramdsell, Director, Washington D.C. Office, NCSL
Neal Osten, Director, Washington D.C. Office, NCSL

This report was made possible in part by a grant from the Four Freedoms Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of NCSL.