Task Force on Immigration and the States



This task force was created in early 2006 primarily to tackle the job of crafting a policy statement to guide NCSL's immigration lobbying efforts with the federal government. The policy has given NCSL substantial credibility on immigration. Since adoption of the statement, the task force has been immersed in the organization's efforts to influence the final shape of national immigration legislation.  In addition, the task force has been successful in focusing attention on the unprecedented state legislative efforts to address immigration issues. NCSL's official immigration policy can be found here.

NCSL Task Force On Immigration & the States
Co-Chair: Senator Moises Denis, Nevada
Co-Chair: Senator John McCollister, Nebraska

NCSL Contacts: Amanda Essex (Denver)  Nicole Ezeh (D.C.) 

Members by States

Representative John Payton
Assemblymember Adam Gray
Representative Theresa Mah
Senator Ralph Alvarado
Senator Susan C. Lee
Representative Lenny Mirra
Senator Jim Abeler
Senator Melisa Lopez Franzen
Katherine B. Schill
Representative Thomas U. Reynolds II
Senator John McCollister
Senator Moises Denis
New Hampshire
Representative Daryl Abbas
Representative Mary Jane Wallner
New Jersey
Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez
New Mexico
Senator Carrie Hamblen
New York
Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages
Jeffrey M. Wice
North Carolina
Senator Warren Daniel
Senator Michael Dembrow
Puerto Rico
Senator Gretchen Hau
South Carolina
Senator Michael Johnson
Senator Curtis S. Bramble
Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos



NCSL's Taskforce on Immigration and the States


Senator Mo Denis, Nevada | Task Force Co-Chair
Senator René García, Florida | Task Force Co-Chair

Bipartisan Policy Center: Theresa Brown and Cris Ramon

An Immigration Patchwork in the States

Border Enforcement and Asylum Policy Changes: Federal Updates

Associate Chief Eddie Sanchez, US Customs and Border Protection, DHS
Jonathan Hayes, Chief of Staff, Office of Refugee Resettlement, HHS

Potential Implications for States: Proposed Rules on Public Charge, Migrant Children and Family Detention

Jackie Vimo, National Immigration Law Center

Immigration and the 2018 Midterm Elections

Laurence Benenson, National Immigration Form


Chicago Council on Global Affairs, June 2017


Senator Mo Denis, Nevada | Task Force Co-Chair
Senator René García, Florida | Task Force Co-Chair

Federal Update:

Speaker: Susan Frederick, Senior Federal Affairs Counsel, NCSL Committee on Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety
NCSL Summary of Executive Orders on Immigration
8 U.S.C. Sec. 1373 Communication between government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service  

Research on Immigrant Workers:

Speaker: Richard Andre, New American Economy (NAE) on state level economic contributions of immigrants
Speaker: Paul Feltman, World Education Services (WES) on untapped immigrant talent, upskilling and licensing of foreign trained professionals


Panel: Employers and Immigration Reform

Speaker: Juliana Kerr, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Opportunity Lost: The Economic Benefit of Retaining Foreign-Born Students in Local Economies
Midwest Diagnosis: Immigration Reform and the Healthcare Sector

Rebecca Shi, Illinois Business Immigration Coalition: Overview of state & federal-level policy work championed by the business community
Jill Fraggos – Healthcare, Director of Government Affairs, Lurie Children’s Hospital
Zeke Flores – Retail, CEO of Flying Concessions
Mark Harris – Technology, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition
Terry Howerton Technology, CEO of TechNexus

Immigration Implications: Local, State and Federal (Livestream Event)

Welcoming Remarks: Juliana Kerr, Director, Global Cities and Immigration, Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Senator Toi Hutchinson, NCSL Vice President

Speakers: Senator René García, Senator Mo Denis, and Senator Dave Heaton

Moderator: Brian Hanson, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Newly Arriving Immigrants and Refugees

Ngoan Le, State Refugee Coordinator, Illinois Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services
Maria Woltjen, Executive Director of Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, University of Chicago Law School


NCSL Capitol Forum | Washington, DC | December 2016


  • Senator Mo Denis, Nevada
  • Senator René García, Florida
  • Senator Ellen Roberts, Colorado



NCSL thanks The Pew Charitable Trusts for their support of this convening.

NCSL Legislative Summit | Chicago | August 2016


  • Senator Mo Denis, Nevada
  • Senator Ellen Roberts, Colorado


NCSL Legislative Summit | Seattle | August 2015

Welcome and Introductions
Discussion of Task Force business and 2015 activities. Highlights from the newly-published NCSL report on 2015 state immigration laws.


  • Senator Mo Denis, Nevada
  • Senator Ellen Roberts, Colorado

Immigration and Economic Development
Governments are crafting new ways to strengthen skills of immigrant workers and support business development by immigrant entrepreneurs. This session provided government, small business, and international perspectives on supporting immigrant businesses. 


  • Brian Surratt, director, Office of Economic Development, City of Seattle
  • Taylor Hoang, small business owner, Washington
  • Mark Giralt, immigration program manager, Embassy of Canada

Innovations in Immigrant Integration
State legislators have been leading the way in supporting immigrant families and workers, from driver’s licenses to health care access to professional licensing.  The White House Task Force on New Americans is creating a strategic plan on refugee and immigrant integration and seeks recommendations how to effectively engage with partners in state government.   


  • Juliet Choi, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief of staff
  • Senator Ricardo Lara, California
  • Representative Joe Miro, Delaware

Working Lunch/Immigration Focus Group
Members discussed recent activity on immigration in their states; review the task force questionnaire; and identify priorities for 2015-16 task force activities.  NCSL thankfully acknowledges The Pew Charitable Trusts for sponsoring this lunch.

NCSL thanks the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of this convening.

NCSL Task Force on Immigration and the States Meeting and Site Visit | San Diego | May 2015

Welcome Lunch
California legislators welcomed the Task Force and highlighted California’s immigration perspective as well as recent legislation addressing fiscal and economic implications of immigration.  Participants identified current immigration policy challenges and solutions in their respective states.


  • Senator Ricardo Lara, California

US/Mexico Border: San Ysidro Point of Entry Tour
Briefings and border tour with CBP and ICE. Topics included border management and security; trends in apprehensions, including child migrants/Central American minors; processing/facilitating entry for visitors and business; inspection of trucks/rail; surveillance technology; drug enforcement, and/or human trafficking.



  • Maria de los Remedios Gomez Arnau, consul general of Mexico in San Diego

Assessing Economic Impacts of Immigration
Legislators and legislative staff are looking to better assess the fiscal and economic impacts of immigrants in their local economies. This session outlined evidence-based research to highlight the impacts of immigrants and immigrant capital on a state’s economic success. Legislators shared tools and polices that they are using to make educated and informed policy decisions. Some best practices included Office of New Americans to coordinate agencies and services, and commission state based economic reports. 


  • Paola Avila, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Karen Phillippi, Michigan Office for New Americans

Driver’s Licenses and Immigrants
Twelve states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that currently allow unauthorized immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. Pew presented findings from a forthcoming report regarding the range of approaches states have taken and the issues they have confronted. This presentation provided a framework across four areas for policymakers to consider when deciding whether or how to issue driver’s licenses: scope, eligibility standards, issuance procedures, and outreach and education. This session provided legislators the opportunity to share their experiences in debating this public policy issue and approaches taken by various states; implementation challenges related to REAL ID and compliance; and impact in states that have these laws. In addition, Erika Contreras, Chief of Staff to CA State Senator Ricardo Lara, will provide unique insights into California’s experience with driver’s license legislation and implementation process. California began issuing unauthorized immigrants driver’s licenses in January 2015.


  • Adam Hunter, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Michele Waslin, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Erika Contreras, chief of staff to California Senator Ricardo Lara

NCSL thanks the Pew Charitable Trusts for their support of this convening.

Task Force on Immigration and the States Meeting | Washington, D.C. | May 2015

Lunch / Working Session:  Immigration Scenarios 2015 and Beyond
This session offered a window on the players and proposals on Capitol Hill in the new Congress. Is there any chance for piecemeal or “boxcars” in the train to get immigration reform moving again? How will the impending presidential election impact legislative chances? State legislators had the opportunity to debrief on conversations with their delegation and immigration priorities in their states. 


  • Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of Immigration Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center

White House briefing and discussion:  Federal Actions/State Impacts
Felicia Escobar provided on update on the Administration’s immigration activities.  What does the White House Task Force on New Americans envision as the role for states?  How does this framework allow the federal government to work with state legislatures on sustainable immigration/immigrant integration policies?  State legislators highlighted immigration challenges and solutions in their respective states, and what states need in terms of federal fiscal and administrative resources.


  • Felicia Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy, White House Domestic Policy Council
  • Laura Patching, chief, Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Immigration Enforcement Briefing with DHS
This session provided an update from DHS on border management and the new Priority Enforcement Program (and the end of the Secure Communities program) and other issues affecting state government, such as child migrants/unaccompanied minors, REAL ID, human trafficking, and engagement with state law enforcement.  


  • Philip A. McNamara, assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Stephen ‘Steve’ Adaway, acting associate deputy assistant director for the Transnational Crime and Public Safety Division, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Breakfast/Roundtable on State Legislation
What were the public policy debates in the states in 2015? What do state legislators need in terms of research and fiscal analysis?

Case Study: Impacts of Immigrants in Maryland        
As a state level example, Senator Richard Madaleno presented findings from a study commissioned by the state legislature (and on which he served) on the economic and fiscal impacts of immigration on Maryland, including the significance for workforce expansion and development.


  • Senator Richard Madaleno, Maryland

Pew Research/Discussion on State Fiscal and Economic Impacts
What is Pew’s role in the immigration conversation? The presentation began with an overview of work at Pew and its Immigration and the States project. Focusing on immigration through the lens of federalism, the presenters highlighted the three main aims of the project: mapping immigration federalism, examining the impact of federal laws and policies on the states, and researching the impact of state and local laws and policies. Pew also presented initial findings from its latest research on how immigrants and citizens are distributed across the workforce by industry in all 50 states. Finally, Pew sought feedback on areas of research it can undertake that can serve to inform forthcoming legislative work.


  • Adam Hunter, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Michele Waslin, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Maggie Woodward, The Pew Charitable Trusts

NCSL thanks the Pew Charitable Trusts for their support of this convening.

NCSL Fall Executive Committee Meeting | Reno, Nev. |  September 2014

Attracting and Retaining Foreign Talent to Invest in the Economy (Joint Meeting with Task Force on International Relations)
Foreign students who attend U.S. colleges and universities on the F-1 visa bring millions of dollars each year to local economies, but regional leaders can do more to capitalize on students’ connections to fast-growing foreign markets to increase local jobs and investment. Neil Ruiz will discuss his new groundbreaking report: "The Geography of Foreign Students in U.S. Higher Education: Origins and Destinations," which tracks the local origins, size and growth rate of the foreign student population on a metropolitan level.


  • Neil Ruiz, Brookings Institution (for his presentation click here)
  • The Hon. Dr. Ingo Wolf, MdL, member of the North Rhine Westphalia Legislature, Free Democratic Party (FDP), Germany

Briefing on Higher Education and Workforce Development (Joint Meeting with Task Force on International Relations)
Leaders from Nevada’s educational institutions will highlight their research and outreach programs to attract local, regional, national and international talent. A member of the German delegation will describe the German education and apprenticeship program, its successes and challenges and future workforce needs. This timely discussion of workforce development and job creation will occur as legislators consider policies in education and job training to attract new business and support economic development in their states.


  • Frank Woodbeck, executive director, Nevada College Collaborative, Nevada System of Higher Education
  • Manos Maragakis, dean, College of Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno
  • The Hon. Clemens Reif, MdL, member of the Hesse Legislature, Christian Democratic Union (CDU); President of Partnership of Parliaments, Germany

NCSL thanks the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of this convening.

NCSL Legislative Summit | Minneapolis | August 2014

From Minnesota to Mumbai: Economic Competitiveness and Immigration
How can “immigrant capital” counter baby boomer retirement, support trade and economic development, and contribute to scientific and technological innovation?  How can legislators better assess the economic and fiscal impact of immigrants in their local communities?  Hear from business and political leaders on the competition for global talent and how to reform the nation's immigration system to benefit the American economy. 


  • Senator Curtis Bramble, Utah
  • Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, Nevada
  • Mike Fernandez, corporate vice president, Corporate Affairs, Cargill, Minnesota
  • Matt Walker, vice president, Government Affairs, National Restaurant Association, Washington, D.C.

NCSL thanks the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of this convening.

NCSL Western States Fiscal Leaders Meeting | Park City, Utah | June 2014

Demographics, Economics & Immigration: What’s the Bottom Line?
Immigration affects state legislatures across a broad spectrum of policies – from education to transportation, from health care to law enforcement. Recently, state legislators have identified the need for credible research data to effectively assess immigrants’ impacts on the economy, state budgets, and tax revenues.  What is the role of immigrants in local workforce supply and demand? How can state level reports – both fiscal and economic - be more robust and comprehensive?  This session presents information on national and Western states’ responses to immigration challenges and the unique perspective and experience of Western states. 


  • Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, co-chair


  • Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of Immigration Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), Washington, D.C.
  • Michele Waslin, manager, Immigration and the States, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, D.C.

NCSL Winter Executive Meeting | Austin | January 2014

Task Force on Immigration and the States Business Meeting & Briefing


  • Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, co-chair


  • Ann Morse, co-director, Task Force on Immigration and the States | State Update: Overview of immigration trends and enacted legislation at the state level.
  • Sheri Steisel, co-director, Task Force on Immigration and the States | Federal Update: Overview of federal immigration activities and what you can expect in 2014.

The International Economic Climate


  • Speaker Terie Norelli, New Hampshire


  • James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations & Professor of Government, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin (former executive director of the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress)

Migration, Commerce, Trade Relations and Economic Development between the U.S. and Mexico.


  • Juan Carlos Lara-Armienta, head of Section, Regional and Hispanic Affairs, Embassy of Mexico. Relevant factsheets for the bilateral relationship are available, in English and Spanish here.

NCSL thanks the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of this convening.

NCSL Legislative Summit | Atlanta | August 2013

Task Force on Immigration and the States: Business Meeting and Coke, Wine & Cheese Reception
Task Force members discussed the latest news on the progress of immigration reform in Congress and potential impacts on the states.  NCSL staff provided highlights from the 2013 report on state immigration laws.


  • Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, Washington
  • Senator John Watkins, Virginia​

Immigration: Finally A Federal Fix?
On June 27, 2013, the Senate passed S.744 by a vote of 68-32.  The legislation addresses border security; reauthorizes the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP); provides for earned legalization of unauthorized immigrants; creates new temporary worker visas; and improves the legal immigration system.  The legislation does not include state impact aid to offset the increased costs for education and health care for new immigrant populations.  In the House, Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte (Va.) took up individual bills on border security, E-Verify, agricultural guest workers and skills based visas, and state law enforcement.  

For this session, Charles Kuck, a nationally-recognized immigration lawyer and President of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, explained the key provisions in S.744 of relevance to states, and the potential impact of the pending House bills on state laws, policies, services and budgets. The presentation was followed by a conversation among state legislators on key immigration issues and whether the bill addresses those challenges.


  • Charles Kuck, Kuck Immigration Partners LLC, Georgia | In this interview, Charles Kuck, managing partner, Kuck Immigration Partners LLC, provides highlights and the potential impacts on states of the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill, S.744, which passed the Senate in June by a vote of 68-32.
  • Senator Curtis Bramble, Utah
  • Senator Mo Denis, Nevada
  • Senator Ellen Roberts, Colorado
  • Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, Washington

NCSL thanks the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of this convening.

NCSL Task Force on Immigration and the States Meeting | Washington, D.C. |  June 2013

Governor Jeb Bush and Governor Haley Barbour: Immigration and State Impacts
The Task Force on Immigration and the States joined Governors Jeb Bush and Haley Barbour for a conversation on immigration reform. Drawing from their own experiences as governors, each provided a unique perspective on immigration and how reform legislation might affect the states, the nation and the Republican Party. Copies of Gov. Bush’s recently released book “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution” were available for purchase and signing directly following the panel discussion. The event is part of BPC’s Immigration Task Force, which is led by Governor Barbour, former Governor Ed Rendell and former Secretaries Condoleezza Rice and Henry Cisneros.

Lunch briefing with NCSL staff:  Federal Update on Immigration Reform


  • Susan Frederick, senior federal affairs counsel
  • Sheri Steisel, senior federal affairs counsel

Briefing at the White House

Working Dinner at Art & Soul


  • Haley Barbour, former governor, Mississippi, and co-chair, Bipartisan Policy Center Immigration Task Force
  • Becky Tallent, director, Immigration Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center 

Presentations on Immigration, Labor Markets and the Economy
States have authority in immigration matters in an array of policy arenas from public education to health care to social services to law enforcement.  A number of national and state level studies have examined costs and benefits of immigrants, but more recently, studies have begun considering the current and potential role that immigrants serve in the economy in terms of workforce and economic development.  The speakers discussed cost-benefit studies as well as these broader economic impacts and the potential impact of immigration reform on states.


  • Susan Martin, director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University, and former Executive Director of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (1990-97)
  • Randy Capps, senior policy analyst and demographer, Migration Policy Institute
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president, American Action Forum, former director, Congressional Budget Office​

NCSL thanks the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of this convening.

NCSL Spring Forum | Denver | May 2013

Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Immigration
States have taken a larger role in immigration in recent years, partly in frustration at federal inaction and recognition that immigrants have wide-ranging effects on state programs, budgets and economies. Immigrants tend to impact state budgets in human services, health, education and law enforcement, while the federal government reaps the lion's share of taxes on their income. This session explored how changing demographics and immigration affect state fiscal impacts, as well as broader economic impacts such as job creation and business development that depend on foreign workers.


  • James Johnson, North Carolina | In this interview, James Johnson, Ph.D, highlights the distinction between the fiscal and economic impacts of immigrants.

NCSL thanks the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of this convening.

NCSL Fall Forum | Phoenix | December 2010

State Immigration Laws: Crossing the Constitutional Border?
State immigration-related legislation remains at an all time high. As state lawmakers test their role in immigration policy, they’re finding their laws under review in federal courts. Explore the debate around Arizona's 2007 worksite enforcement law currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as issues surrounding in-state tuition for immigrants, Arizona's 2010 immigration enforcement law, and the latest trends in legal and illegal immigration.


  • Representative Joni M. Cutler, South Dakota


  • Representative John Kavanagh, Arizona
  • Senator Mee Moua, Minnesota 
  • Senator Curtis S. Bramble, Utah
  • Kathleen Campbell Walker, Cox/Smith, Texas

NCSL Regional Conference on Immigrants and the States: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah | Denver | December 2005

Welcoming Remarks and Introduction to conference and its goals: 

  • Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Colorado
  • Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald,  Colorado 
  • Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, president-elect, NCSL

The Immigration Crisis:  Past and Present
With 11 million unauthorized immigrants, the nation’s immigration system is badly in need of reform.  Ms. Martin will discuss the lessons from the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and reimbursement of state costs (SLIAG).  How will federal proposals address the current problems through border and worksite enforcement, legalization and temporary worker programs?  What are the likely impacts on states?


  • Susan Martin, executive director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University and former executive director, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform

Demographic Trends:  A Look at Economic and Labor Effects of Immigrants
This session will examine regional population trends; such as aging populations, employer needs, in-migration, and push-pull factors with Mexico.  This session will include a discussion of economic and labor effects of immigrants in the U.S.


  • Roberto Suro, director, Pew Hispanic Center

“Will Immigration Be Reformed? ” 
A discussion of the politics, potential, and pitfalls of immigration in Congress.
Speakers will include Angelo Amador, director of Immigration Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a representative from the Bush Administration

How Can States Respond? 
The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration policy (the terms and conditions for living and working in the United States).  This session examines the areas where state government and services are affected by federal policies, and efforts to communicate these concerns and challenges to Congress and the Administration as federal immigration reform moves forward. 


  • Sheri Steisel, NCSL Human Services Committee director

Legislators’ Roundtable: States Report on Immigrant Issues in their States


  • Ron Snell, director of Economic, Fiscal & Human Resources, NCSL


  • Senate President John Valentine, Utah
  • Representative Russell Pearce, Arizona
  • Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, Nevada
  • Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Colorado
  • Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, Colorado

NCSL thanks our supporters for their contributions: The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Colorado Trust, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce