New Report Highlights 2019 State Immigration Legislation


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Washington, D.C.—While Congress continues to stall on comprehensive immigration reform, states are acting where they can. In 2019, lawmakers in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico enacted 181 laws related to immigration, a slight increase of 3% since last year.

The report, “2019 Report on State Immigration Laws,” summarizes laws and resolutions enacted between January and December 2019 and trends in immigration legislation throughout the year. Trends outlined in the report include:

  • Census: Eight states addressed the 2020 census and immigrant residents.
  • Occupational Licensing: Nine states enacted measures to expand licensing and credentialing options for citizens and noncitizens with professional training.
  • Law Enforcement: Nine states and the District of Columbia addressed immigration enforcement/sanctuary policies such as communications with federal law enforcement and compliance with federal immigration detainers. 
  • Requests for Federal Action: Twelve states adopted 22 resolutions seeking congressional or administrative action on immigration.
  • Driver’s Licenses: New Jersey, New York and Oregon became the most recent states to enact legislation extending driver’s licenses and identification cards to those without proof of lawful presence.

Read the 2019 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.