August 2017

Report on State Immigration Laws | January-June 2017

What Are the Numbers?

Enacted legislation related to immigration increased in the first half of 2017 by 90 percent to 133 laws compared with 70 laws in 2016. The number of resolutions increased by 22 percent to 195 from 159. Lawmakers in 47 states enacted 133 laws and 195 resolutions related to immigration, for a total of 328. An additional nine bills were vetoed by governors and 18 are pending signatures. 

Three states did not enact immigration-related legislation in the first half of 2017: Alaska, Massachusetts and North Carolina. 

Map showing trends in 2017 state immigration legislation

Trends 2017

Pie chart showing 2017 state enacted laws related to immigration

Methodology: This report summarizes laws and resolutions enacted between January and June 2017. Laws included in this overview address legal immigrants, migrant and seasonal workers, refugees or unauthorized immigrants. Terms used in this report by and large reflect those used in the state legislation.

In some state legislative language, unauthorized immigrants are also described as “illegal immigrants,” “undocumented immigrants” or “aliens.”

Categories of Immigration-Related Laws Enacted

 

Enacted Immigration-Related Laws By Category

Category

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Budgets

41

20

29

20

33

35

26

36

Education

13

13

7

15

9

23

8

17

Employment

27

22

10

14

18

10

4

9

Health

15

18

9

14

10

22

8

6

Human Trafficking

7

4

9

10

8

7

3

5

ID/Driver’s Licensing

23

23

12

34

18

19

8

19

Law Enforcement

33

42

20

16

23

15

7

28

Miscellaneous

22

11

5

11

2

10

4

3

Omnibus

2

6

1

0

0

0

0

0

Public Benefits

3

12

9

10

10

8

2

7

Voting

5

3

3

2

1

4

0

3

Resolutions

128

95

92

231

84

239

159

195

Total (Excluding Resolutions)

191

174

114

146

132

153

70

133

Total (Including Resolutions)

319

269

206

377

216

392

229

328

 

Bar chart showing categories of immigration-related laws enacted in 2017

Budget

Lawmakers in 21 states enacted 36 laws: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Virginia and Washington. 

These laws typically appropriate funds for refugee services, migrant health, naturalization services, education and English as a Second Language programs, or law enforcement.

Education

Lawmakers in 12 states and the District of Columbia enacted 17 laws: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

These laws usually pertain to immigration and residency requirements for access to higher education, instate tuition, or financial assistance at educational institutions. Some laws address enhanced learning for refugees or English learners. This year, legislation was passed to include portions of the federal naturalization exam in high school civics requirements.

For more information, please see NCSL’s publication on in-state tuition and unauthorized immigrant students.

Employment

Lawmakers in eight states enacted nine laws: Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas and Wyoming.

These laws address eligibility for unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, work authorization and E-Verify, and employer retaliation.

For additional information on E-Verify legislation, please see NCSL’s publication.

Health

Lawmakers in five states and the District of Columbia enacted six laws: Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and the District of Columbia.

These laws typically pertain to eligibility requirements for Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program, language access, and eligibility criteria for licenses within the health profession.

Human Trafficking

Lawmakers in five states enacted five laws: Connecticut, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas and West Virginia.

These laws provide benefits and protections to victims of human trafficking and address penalties for traffickers.

ID’s/Driver's Licenses and Other Licenses

Lawmakers in 15 states enacted 19 laws: Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington.

In addition to providing for the eligibility of state-issued identification cards and driver’s licenses, these laws address a range of topics including professional licenses, firearm permits, hunting and recreational permits, and documentation requirements for driver’s license applications.

Law Enforcement

Lawmakers in 16 states and the District of Columbia enacted 28 laws: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.

These laws typically pertain to the enforcement of immigration laws, but also include regulations pertaining to those working as notary publics and immigration consultants.

For more information on sanctuary policies, please see NCSL’s issue brief. 

Miscellaneous

Lawmakers in three states enacted three laws: Louisiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

This category typically includes immigration-related issues that do not fit in other categories and are addressed infrequently, memberships on task forces and commissions, abandoned property and studies.

For more information on refugees, please see NCSL’s publication. 

Public Benefits

Lawmakers in six states enacted seven laws: Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

These laws address social service programs that affect all people covered by the programs—immigrants and non-immigrants alike—and laws that ensure benefits are granted only to eligible immigrants. 

Voting

Lawmakers in three states enacted three laws: Georgia, Mississippi and North Dakota.

These laws typically clarify voter registration requirements and valid documents to prove U.S. citizenship. Some address foreign contributions to elections.

Resolutions

Lawmakers in 31 states and the District of Columbia adopted 195 resolutions: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. 

Resolutions typically commend citizens, immigrants, and immigrant-serving organizations for their contributions, recognize the cultural heritage of immigrants in a state, and urge Congress or the president of the United States to take certain actions. This year, five states adopted resolutions encouraging federal action on immigration. 

 

Prepared by:

Reviewers:

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, August 2017

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.