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  • Meagan Dorsch
    Director of Public Affairs
  • Jon Kuhl
    Public Affairs Specialist
    Washington, D.C.
August 9, 2011

States Continue to Step up to the Plate on Immigration Issues

SAN ANTONIO- Immigration is one of the most pressing issues facing state legislatures, and state policymakers have received little to no help from the federal government. The task of creating comprehensive and effective immigration policy has been left to the states.

A new report by the NCSL’s Immigrant Policy Project shows that every state considered immigrant issues during its 2011 legislative session.

According to the “2011 Immigration-Related Laws and Resolutions in the States” report, state legislatures enacted 151 laws and adopted 95 resolutions for a total of 246 measures as of June 30, 2011. Twelve additional bills passed but were vetoed by governors. An additional 10 bills were pending governors’ approval and are not included in this report of enacted laws.

This is a 22 percent decrease from the same period in 2010, where 44 state legislatures passed 191 laws and adopted 128 resolutions, for a total of 314. An additional five bills were vetoed. 

Even though states saw a decrease in the number of enacted immigration bills in 2011, the number of proposed bills was up. This year saw the largest number of introduced bills and resolutions, 1,592.

This new report, developed by NCSL's Immigrant Policy Project, is a snapshot of immigration laws enacted between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2011. As in previous years, law enforcement, identification/driver’s licenses, and employment remained the top issues addressed in state legislation related to immigrants.

Five states—Alabama, Georgia, Indiana South Carolina and Utah—enacted omnibus laws following the example of Arizona’s SB.1070. In four of these five states, immigration enforcement laws have been challenged in court, citing federal preemption and violation of the Fourth and 14th Amendments. Utah took the immigration debate in a new direction, crafting a package of bills to support immigration enforcement and a legal immigrant workforce (HB.116, HB.466, HB.469 and HB.497). 

E-Verify legislation was enacted in 10 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. Seventeen states now have an E-Verify requirement.

A press conference on NCSL’s “2011 Immigration-Related Laws and Resolutions in the States” report will be held at its Legislative Summit in San Antonio. An NCSL policy analyst will be on hand to answer questions regarding the newly enacted immigration laws, and members of the NCSL immigration task force will answer questions regarding legislative action in their own states.

Press Availability
Tuesday, Aug. 9
2 ET/ 1 CT/ noon MT/ 11 PT
Tell operator you are on for the NCSL call.
For reporters onsite at NCSL’s Legislative Summit, the press conference will be held in Room 208 of the convention center.

The topic of immigration legislation will be addressed in a session at NCSL’s Legislative Summit. Lawmakers will discuss action taken in their own state and encourage members of Congress to address the issue. Members of the public may watch and participate in this session from home or work via web streaming. The session may be purchased for $69.

Testing the Constitution: Laws and the Courts
Wednesday, Aug. 10
10 –11:30a.m., Henry G. Gonzales Convention Center (Room 217BC)
• Moderator: Senator Joni M. Cutler, South Dakota
• Speaker: Peter Schuck, professor of law, Yale University, Connecticut
• Respondents: Senator Curtis S. Bramble, Utah
• Senator Rich Crandall, Arizona
• Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Texas

This NCSL publication and PDF are registered with the NCSL copyright and may not be reproduced, uploaded or distributed in any way in its entirety.

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.