New NCSL Report Focuses on 2017 Immigration-Related Bills and Resolutions


At least 36 states considered more than 100 bills related to sanctuary jurisdictions or noncompliance with immigration detainers

NCSL press release Boston—Lawmakers in statehouses across the U.S. have approved 133 immigration-related laws this year, representing a 90 percent increase compared to 2016, according to a report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures during its 43rd annual Legislative Summit in Boston.

The “Report on State Immigration Laws” summarizes laws and resolutions enacted between January and June 2017.

Lawmakers in 47 states enacted 133 laws and 195 resolutions related to immigration, totaling 328, according to the report.. An additional nine bills were vetoed by governors and 18 are pending signatures.

“States are coming up with innovative ways to address immigration issues—in education, health care, and economic development—that the federal government seems to ignore,” said Senator Rene Garcia, (R-Fla.).

A few trends of enacted laws include:

  • 27 percent of all laws are budget and appropriations laws, authorizing funds for such purposes as providing for immigration enforcement, immigrant integration, English language and citizenship classes, and migrant and refugee programs.
  • 21 percent of legislation related to law enforcement, such as immigration enforcement and consumer fraud related to legal services.
  • 13 percent of legislation related to IDs/driver’s licenses and other licenses.
  • 12 percent of laws dealt with education, addressing immigration and residency requirements for higher education, and six states included portions of the federal naturalization exam in high school civics requirements.
  • 5 percent of laws related to health such as interpreters, eligibility criteria for Medicaid or licensing relating to health professionals.
  • 7 percent of laws focused on employment, E-Verify, limiting workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance, or defining employment.
  • 5 percent of laws addressed public benefits such as eligibility or special immigrant juvenile status.
  • 4 percent of laws addressed human trafficking, such as penalties for withholding or destroying immigration documents, and providing assistance to victims.

“This report on state immigration laws shows the variety of ways states are working to address immigration enforcement and immigrant integration, and leading the way for the federal government to take action on immigration reform,” said Senator Mo Denis (D-Nev.).

NCSL’s Immigration Policy Project produces reports three times a year on state laws that address immigration issues. This report summarizes all enacted legislation, offering examples of laws and resolutions, from January through June. The December year-end report summarizes all laws and resolutions enacted, and highlights examples of new laws or trends.

Read the midyear review. 


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.