New NCSL Report HIghlights 2018 Immigration Legislation


NCSL press release

New NCSL Report Highlights 2018 State Immigration Action

Washington, D.C.–In 2018, lawmakers in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico enacted 175 laws and 222 resolutions related to immigration, a decrease of 15 percent in enacted laws and a 16 percent decrease in resolutions based on the previous year. This according to a new annual report released by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

The report, “2018 State Immigration Laws,” summarizes laws and resolutions enacted between January and December 2018 and trends in immigration legislation throughout the year. Trends outlined in the report include:

  • Occupational Licensing: With states still looking to fill key labor shortages in areas such as agriculture, health care, education, and STEM fields, nine states passed eight laws and one resolution in 2018 to address barriers in occupational licensing for immigrants with work authorization.
  • Sanctuary Policies: At least 25 states considered 66 bills this year on sanctuary policies. This is down from the 100 bills considered last year. In 2018, at least three states specifically enacted laws related to sanctuary policies: California, Iowa, and Tennessee. In Oregon, a ballot initiative to repeal the state’s sanctuary laws failed 2 to 1.
  • Refugees: In 2018, 13 states introduced 21 bills seeking additional state control over refugee resettlement, a sharp decline from the 65 bills introduced on the topic last year. Several states, including California, Florida, Hawaii and New Mexico, introduced resolutions in support of refugees or child migrants at the southern border and urged Congress to take supportive action.
  • Education and Civics: Five additional states—Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Washington—added portions of the federal naturalization exam to high school civics curricula and testing requirements bringing the total to 18 states.

Read the 2018 Immigration Report.


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.