2007 Enacted State Legislation Related to Immigrants and Immigration

January 31, 2008


Adobe PDF Click here for the final 2007 report


In the absence of federal immigration reform, state legislatures have passed an unprecedented amount of legislation related to immigrants in a range of policy arenas. 

  • The number of state laws enacted in 2007 is nearly triple that of 2006:  240 compared to 84.
  • Immigration is being debated in all 50 state capitols.  1562 bills were introduced in the 50 states.  Laws were enacted in 46 states in 2007, compared to 32 states in 2006.
  • States are passing legislation that utilizes a broad range of enforcement and integration strategies to address legal and unauthorized immigration. 
  • The top 3 topics in enacted laws are identification/licenses (40), employment (29), and public benefits (33).  In 2006 they were employment (14) and human trafficking (13).
  • Immigration continues to being addressed in a broad range of policy arenas, including education (22), health (14), human trafficking (18); law enforcement (16); and resolutions (50). 
  • One state passed omnibus legislation in 2007 – Oklahoma.  The bill addresses identification, public benefits, law enforcement; and employment verification, and creates a felony for harboring or transporting unauthorized immigrants.  In 2006, Georgia passed omnibus legislation addressing employment, enforcement and benefits. In 2006, Colorado enacted a slate of 12 laws in special session addressing employment, enforcement, voting, and benefits, and placed two on the general election ballot regarding business deductions and suing the federal government to demand it enforce immigration laws.
  • Identification/licenses laws (40 laws in 30 states) relate primarily to driver’s licenses or REAL ID, while others address professional licensing or recreational licenses. 
  • Employment laws (33 laws in 19 states) relate to the verification of work authorization by employers and contractors; disallowing tax deductions for unauthorized workers; and eligibility for worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance.  Arizona and Illinois took different approaches to the federal work authorization database, Basic Pilot, recently renamed E-Verify.  Arizona mandates the use of the pilot program, while Illinois bans its use until the accuracy has improved.  The laws in Arizona and Illinois are being challenged in the courts. 
  • Public benefits (32 laws in 19 states) laws address eligibility and exemptions for immigrants for state funded benefits.  Several laws fund programs for migrant workers.  Four states set guidelines in child abduction cases where immigration or citizenship status changes may adversely affect a petitioner’s ability to remain in the United States.

The 2007 report is available at: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/immig/2007immigrationfinal.htm

The 2006 report is available at: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/immig/6ImmigEnactedLegis3.htm

The 2005 report is available at: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/immig/IMMIGStateLegisJuly06.htm

Last updated February 15, 2008