June 27, 2013
Federal Immigration Legislation Fails to Address State Impact Aid
Update: On Thursday, June 27, the U.S. Senate voted to pass S. 744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill, by a vote of 68 to 32. NCSL applauds the passage of the bipartisan bill and looks forward to continuing to work with Congress on this important issue.
Washington, D.C.—As the U.S. Senate gears up to vote on comprehensive immigration reform, states are disappointed that the bill does not include state impact aid. Without such aid, states and localities will be forced to carry a disproportionate share of the financial burden for immigrant population services, including education and public health costs.
The bill includes English language requirements for those on the path to legalization and American citizenship, accounting for up to 15 million people, including those waiting in line for green cards. If the federal government does not provide financial assistance, states will bear these costs. The Senate bill bars immigrants on the path to legalization and citizenship access to federal health benefit programs, but public hospitals are required to provide emergency room services, which are paid for by state and local governments.
Despite the exclusion of state impact aid in the current version of the bill, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is optimistic that it can work with Congress to include state impact aid in the final legislation.
Overall, NCSL is pleased with bipartisan immigration reform legislation (S. 744). Of particular importance to states is the bill’s inclusion of border security and enforcement provisions, a temporary worker program and the creation of an earned legalization program for unauthorized immigrants currently in the country.
NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.