NCSL produces reports three times a year on state laws that address legal immigrants, migrant and seasonal workers, refugees or unauthorized immigrants. The April report looks at introduced legislation and presents selected examples of enacted laws and adopted resolutions. The July report identifies and summarizes all enacted legislation from January-June. The December year-end report identifies and summarizes all laws and resolutions enacted, and highlights examples of new laws or trends. (Terms used in these reports 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.)
Lawmakers in statehouses across the United States have approved 132 immigration-related laws so far this year, representing a nine percent decline since 2013, according to a new report issued by NCSL. Aug. 20, 2014. NCSL Press Release.
State immigration legislation in 2013 seemed to shift in response to new federal policy to defer deportation for young unauthorized immigrants and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Arizona SB1070. Lawmakers in 45 states and the District of Columbia enacted 184 laws and 253 resolutions related to immigration, for a total of 437, an increase of 64 percent from the 267 laws and resolutions enacted in 2012. Jan. 21, 2013.
Immigration legislation rebounded in 2013 after a pause in activity in 2012, As of June 30, 2013, state legislatures had already exceeded the number of laws and resolutions enacted in all of 2012. In the first half of 2013, lawmakers in 43 states and the District of Columbia enacted 146 laws and 231 resolutions related to immigration, for a total of 377. Sept. 6, 2013.
While state legislatures seemed to hit the pause button on immigration in 2012, it was still a hot topic, with nearly 1,000 bill introductions and 156 laws enacted. State lawmakers pointed to other issues pushing immigration to the back burner, notably budget deficits, redistricting and pending litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court on Arizona’s immigration enforcement law. State legislators introduced 983 bills and resolutions in 46 state legislatures, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, a decline of 39 percent compared to the 1,607 bills introduced in 2011.
Lawmakers in 41 states enacted 114 bills and adopted 92 resolutions dealing with immigration in the first half of 2012, according to a report on immigration released at NCSL's Legislative Summit in Chicago. August, 2012
In the first quarter of 2012, 865 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees were introduced in 45 state legislatures and the District of Columbia. This is 673 fewer—a decrease of 44 percent—than the first quarter of 2011, when 1,538 bills were introduced. Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas are not in regular session in 2010, and North Carolina begins its session in May. These five states accounted for 256 bill introductions in the first quarter of 2011.
In 2011, state legislators introduced 1,607 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. This is a significant increase compared with 2010, when 46 states considered more than 1,400 bills and resolutions pertaining to immigrants. Even though more bills were introduced this year, however, 11 percent fewer were enacted. As of Dec. 7, 2011, 42 states and Puerto Rico had enacted 197 new laws and 109 new resolutions, for a total of 306. Fifteen additional bills passed but were vetoed by governors.
Press Release - Dec. 13, 2011
As of June 30, 2011, 40 state legislatures enacted 162 laws and adopted 95 resolutions for a total of 257. Twelve additional bills passed but were vetoed by governors. For the same period in 2010, 44 state legislatures passed 191 laws and adopted 128 resolutions, for a total of 314. An additional five bills were vetoed. The 2011 total of laws and resolutions is a decrease of 18 percent. As of June 30, 2011, an additional 10 bills were pending governors’ approval – these bills are not included in this report of enacted laws.
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. The report is available here.
Press Release - May 19, 2011
Audio: Immigration and the States
Since omnibus immigration enforcement laws were enacted in Arizona early in 2010 (and subsequently enjoined after a federal challenge), five additional states have enacted similar laws: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah in 2011. Lawsuits were filed in each state. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion for injunction of Alabama's law, HB56, on August 1; on South Carolina's immigration law, S.20, on October 31; and of Utah's HB497 on November 22. On Dec. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review Arizona v. U.S. On Dec. 22, parts of South Carolina's law were enjoined.
SB 1070 and HB 2162, enacted in April 2010, relate to immigration law enforcement by adding state penalties for trespassing, harboring and transporting illegal immigrants, not carrying alien registration documents, employing illegal immigrants, and smuggling humans.
Forty-six state legislatures and the District of Columbia enacted 208 laws and adopted 138 resolutions for a total of 346. Ten additional bills were vetoed. Montana, Nevada, North Dakota or Texas were not in regular session in 2010. As in previous years, law enforcement, employment and ID/driver's licenses remained top issues. Last Updated Juanuary 2011.
Press Release - Jan. 13, 2011
In the first half of 2010, state legislators in 44 states enacted 319 laws and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees. Five were vetoed. As in past years, employment, identification/driver's licenses, and law enforcement remained top areas of interest.
Previous Immigrant Policy Project Reports