Immigrant Policy

2006 State Legislation Related to Immigration: Enacted, Vetoed, and Pending Gubernatorial Action

July 3, 2006

In 2006, over 500 pieces of legislation concerning immigrants have been introduced in state legislatures around the country. While legislation covered a wide variety of topics, many states focused on employment, trafficking, public benefits, education, identification, voting rights and procedures, trafficking, law enforcement, and legal services.  Thus far, at least 57 bills have been enacted in 2006, a pace that exceeds that of 2005. A handful of bills have been vetoed, and several more are awaiting gubernatorial action.

Bills were enacted in 27 states:  Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas,  Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.



# of bills enacted


#  of states


8 bills


7 states


3 bills


3 states


13 bills


10 states

Human Trafficking

9 bills


7 states


6 bills


5 states

Law Enforcement

4 bills


4 states

Legal Services


4 bills

5 bills


4 states

4 states


5 bills


5 states

Enacted Bills


Georgia’s SB 529 (The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act) covers multiple topics and was signed by the Governor on April 17, 2006.  The bill requires public employers to participate in a federal work authorization program for all new employees beginning July 1, 2007; subcontractors must also register and participate (section 2). The bill increases the penalties for human trafficking (section 3).  The bill authorizes the state to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Justice or U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding enforcement of federal immigration and customs laws (section 4).  If a person is charged with a felony or drunk driving and confined to jail, an effort shall be made to determine the nationality; if the person is a foreign national, a reasonable effort shall be made to determine that the person has been admitted into the United States lawfully (section 5).  The bill also establishes and enforces standards of ethics by those that provide immigration assistance services who are not licensed attorneys (section 6).  The bill denies certain deductible business expenses unless the worker has been authorized and verified to work in the U.S., beginning in 2008 (section 7).  The bill requires income tax withholding at 6 percent for those who failed to provide a correct taxpayer identification number (section 8).  State agencies must also verify the lawful presence of an individual before awarding certain benefits; emergency assistance, vaccines and other programs are exempted (section 9). 

Public Benefits and Services for Non-US citizens

Arizona HB 2448/SB 2738 (signed 4/24/2006) requires U.S. citizenship or legal immigrant status to receive health benefits. An unauthorized immigrant can receive emergency medical services only (section 1).

Illinois SB 918 (signed 5/3/2006) outlines requirements for eligibility for the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan. The Act requires U.S. citizenship or legal immigrant status to be eligible for the state health plan coverage (section 7).

Illinois HB 4302 (signed 6/23/2006) provides prescription drug cost benefits to those who are "not eligible for federally funded means-tested benefits due to immigration status" (section 10).

Kansas HB 2157 (signed 3/23/2006) limits unemployment benefits and employment protection status to citizens and those with legal immigration status. Immigrants who were admitted into the United States legally and completed work during this time period are also eligible for benefits for that specific time period only (section 1:4:C:m).

Kansas HB 2352 (signed 5/22/2006) enacts general eligibility requirements for federally funded programs for public benefits.  Medical services offered under a state medical care plan funded by both state and federal monies require citizenship or legal residency status. (section 97:4:e) The bill requires recipients of federally funded child care and protective services to be citizens of the United States. (section 97:2)

Maine’s HB 1242/LD 1734 (signed 3/16/2006) entitled “An Act to Increase Accessibility to Health Insurance,” defines a person “legally domiciled” in the state as one who has a resident visa (section 1). The bill allows those non-citizens who have resident visas and who are living in Maine to be eligible to qualify for Medicare coverage (section 2).

Maryland HB 89 (signed 5/2/2006) requires the Governor to support the Maryland Medical Assistance Program for health care services for specified legal immigrant children under 18 and pregnant women in the annual budget, beginning in FY 2008. At least $7 million shall be appropriated each year to provide these services. Pregnant legal immigrant women who entered the country after August 22, 1996 and who meet eligibility guidelines for federal and state medical assistance programs qualify (section 2).

Nebraska LB 1248 (signed 4/13/2006) deems lawfully admitted immigrants eligible for U.S. citizenship to qualify for food stamp benefits, regardless of date of entry (section 70:1). Refugees and those admitted for asylum are also eligible (section 70:2). The income of a U.S. citizen sponsoring a non-U.S. citizen can be used to determine the non-U.S. citizen’s eligibility until citizenship is granted (section 70:3).


Nebraska LB 239 (signed 4/14/2006) allows unauthorized immigrant students to qualify for in-state tuition (section 1).

Virginia SB 542 (signed 4/6/2006) establishes eligibility for in-state tuition for those holding an immigration visa or classified as a political refugee in the same manner as any other resident student. Students with temporary or student visa status are ineligible for Virginia resident status and in-state tuition (section C).

Wyoming SB 85 (signed 3/10/2006) provides scholarships to Wyoming students to attend community colleges and the University of Wyoming. The bill bars non-citizens and non-Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) from receiving scholarship funding in this bill. Students whose parents have claimed foreign residency status during the student’s high school attendance are also ineligible (section W.S. 21-16-1303).


Colorado HB 1343 (signed 6/6/2006) prohibits state agencies from entering into contract agreements with contractors who knowingly employ illegal immigrants and requires a prospective contractor to verify legal work status of all employees. The contractor must verify that the Basic Pilot Program has been used to verify the legal status of all employees. If the contractor discovers that an illegal alien is employed, the contractor must alert the state agency within 3 days. (section 1).

Idaho HB 577 (signed 3/11/2006) limits unemployment benefits to U.S. citizens and legal residents (section 2).

Idaho HB 649 (signed 3/24/2006) prohibits balance billing when administering worker’s compensation benefits.  Benefits are available only to citizens and authorized immigrants. (“Balance billing" means billing or otherwise attempting to collect  directly  from  an  injured  employee payment for medical services in excess of amounts allowable in compensable claims.)

Kansas SB 108 (signed 4/15/2006) provides employment security measures and unemployment benefits to legal residents of the state. Qualifying terms of employment do not include those immigrants who were admitted under certain legal circumstances to perform agricultural services (section 4).

Louisiana SB 753 (signed 6/23/2006) allows any state agency or department to conduct an investigation of a contractor’s hiring policies if the employment of unauthorized immigrants is suspected.  The district attorney can issue an order to fire undocumented workers, and, if the contractor does not comply with ten days of receiving notice, the contractor is subject to penalties of up to $10,000. This applies only to contractor’s employing more than 10 people (section 1).

Missouri HB 1456 (signed 6/14/2006) denies unemployment benefits to any non-citizen worker (section 288.038).

Oklahoma SB 1401 (signed 6/6/2006) requires that no person shall be certified as a police or peace officer in the state unless the employing agency has reported that such person has provided proof of U.S. citizenship or resident alien status, pursuant to the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) (section 2).

Oklahoma SB 1634 (signed 5/22/2006) excludes nonresident aliens and immigrants who were admitted into the United States for agricultural labor from unemployment protections and benefits.   (section 1-210).

Pennsylvania HB 2319 (signed 5/11/2006) is known as the Prohibition of Illegal Alien Labor on Assisted Project Act. The bill defines an illegal alien as one who violates federal immigration laws yet is a paid employee within the state. This bill prohibits the use of labor by illegal immigrants on projects financed by grants or loans from the state government.  Appropriate federal authorities should be contacted in the event a contractor knowingly employs illegal aliens and continues to accept a state contract (section 3).

Tennessee HB 111 (enrolled 6/1/2006) prohibits contractors from contracting with state agencies within one year of the discovery that the contractor employs illegal immigrants (section 1).

Washington SB 6194 (signed 3/27/2006) acknowledges that men and women of color suffer significant inequities in almost all aspects of daily life. To address this issue, this bill mandates multicultural education for health professionals in order to increase understanding of the relationship between culture and health (section 1).

Washington SB 6885 (signed 3/9/2006) excludes labor performed by nonresident aliens from the definition of “employment” when establishing Unemployment Insurance benefits (section 22).

Drivers’ License/ Identification Documents

Colorado SB 110 (signed 5/30/2006) concerns the fabrication of fraudulent documents for legal status and identification purposes.  This bill provides funding for full-time investigator position in the attorney general’s office, and implements a $50,000 civil fine for counterfeiting identification documents (section 1).

Colorado HB 1306 (signed 5/30/2006) requires an audit of a 2003 law restricting the use of foreign identification papers, including a consulate identification card. The report would, in part, determine if a birth certificate issued outside of Colorado should qualify as a verifiable document (section 1).

Florida HB 7079 (signed 6/22/2006) requires proof of legal immigrant status or proof of pending adjustment to legal immigrant status of driver’s license applicants (section 322.08).

Maine LD 501 (signed 2/10/2006) forbids the acceptance of these expired documents as identification for state driver’s licenses:  expired visas issued by the United States; expired documents issued by foreign countries, and foreign passports with an elapsed departure date.

Missouri SB 1001 (signed 6/14/2006) states that a learner's permit, driver's license, or renewal license may not be extended to a person not lawfully residing in the state (section 302.171.1).

South Carolina HB 3085 (signed 6/12/2006) mandates that an individual is guilty of fraud if another person’s personal information, such as social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, checking and savings account numbers, and credit and debit card numbers, is used for the purposes of gaining employment (section 16).


Delaware SB 162 (signed 2/1/2006) amends the Delaware Code Relating to Elections. The amended bill requires that appointed elected officials swear “I will not knowingly or willfully receive or consent to the receiving of the vote of any alien…”  upon the opening of a polling place on election day (section 52).

New Hampshire SB 403 (law without signature  6/16/2006) requires proof of citizenship for voter registration purposes (section 1).

Missouri SB 1014 (signed 6/14/2006) mandates that applicants for voter registration may only use identification issued in the U.S. or Missouri (i.e. driver's license, passport, etc). The ID used must include a picture (section 115.427.1).

South Dakota SB 118 (signed 2/22/2006) amends the requirements necessary for voting. When requesting a ballot, a voter must present a passport or government-issued photo identification card before receiving a ballot (section 1).

Virginia HB 170 (signed 5/18/2006) requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to provide the State Board of Elections with a list of non-citizen driver’s license applicants each month.  When collecting this information, the DMV may not offer voter registration to the applicant. The general registrar can cancel voter registration as a result of non-citizen status. The DMV is not required to verify any claims of residency (section 24.2-410.1). The general registrar is required to delete the names of those voters who have non-citizen status. Those names must be kept in a separate database for 4 years (section 24.2-404).


Colorado SB 206 (signed 5/30/2006) makes smuggling humans a class 3 felony, unless the adult is an illegal immigrant, which makes the offense a class 2 felony. Smuggling includes offering transportation to someone of illegal residency status enter, pass through, or remain in either the United States or Colorado in exchange for money. A separate offense is brought against the smuggler for each person assisted (section 1).

Colorado SB 207 (signed 5/30/2006) makes human trafficking a crime and increases penalties. Trafficking a human includes selling, exchanging, bartering or leasing an adult (16 years old or older) in exchange for money.  Trafficking also includes receiving the services of an adult in exchange for money (section 1).  Trafficking of any child under the age of 16 results in a class 3 felony (section 2).

Colorado SB 225 (signed 6/6/2006) creates a division in the Colorado State Patrol Department of Public Safety to address human smuggling and human trafficking on state highways (section 1).

Florida SB 250 (signed 6/12/2006) makes human trafficking a crime. Trafficking includes threatening to or destroying immigration documents for the purposes of forced employment (section 1). Victims of trafficking can receive up to three times the monetary amount for their services as restitution (section 3).

Iowa SB 2219 (signed 4/21/2006) makes human trafficking a crime and increases penalties. Training regarding the sensitive treatment of trafficking victims is ordered, and communication by law enforcement officials in the language of the victims is encouraged (section 1). A person engages in trafficking by physically restraining the victim or threatening to do so.  A person also engages in trafficking by benefiting from the services of the victim or by receiving money for the victim’s services. Threatening to or destroying identification documents to force a person into service constitutes trafficking. Trafficking carries a Cass D felony charge if the victim is over 18 and a class C felony charge if the victim is under 18 (section 3).  The value of the labor provided by the victim will be taken into account when restitution is considered (section 5).  A trafficking victim may qualify under certain circumstances for a special immigrant visa and may qualify for some federal assistance (section  6).  The bill institutes a Victim Compensation Fund (section 8). The bill also calls for a study to examine the effects of trafficking on victims (section 9).

Maine HB 893/ LD 1296  (signed 4/28/2006) establishes a task force to investigate possible determents to trafficking (section 1).

Michigan HB 5747 (signed 5/25/2006) stiffens penalties for human trafficking. The bill defines trafficking as threatening a person into forced labor by causing or threatening bodily harm. The penalty for this crime is a prison sentence varying from up to 10 years to life, depending on the severity of the offense (section 462b).  The bill also forbids forced labor or services by threatening the destruction of immigration documents, and increases penalties for human trafficking (section 462e). The intention of trafficking a human is also criminal (section 462h). Finally, kidnapping, attempting to kill, murdering, or engaging in criminal sexual conduct with a trafficking victim is punishable by life imprisonment (section 462i).

Mississippi HB 381 (signed 4/21/2006) increases the penalties for a person found guilty of human trafficking of any kind to a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years. A person found guilty of recruiting a minor for employment in the sex industry can receive a prison sentence of up to 30 years (section 3).  Destroying or threatening to destroy immigration documents for the purposes of restricting travel will result in a prison term of no more than 5 years. (section 4).

Virginia SB 291 (signed 3/30/2006) makes the act of threatening an individual with reporting illegal status to officials for the purposes of extorting money a class 5 felony.

Law Enforcement

Colorado SB 90 (signed 5/1/2006) prohibits any state or local government from enacting legislation that impedes law enforcement agencies from cooperating or communicating with federal officials concerning an arrestee who is suspected to be illegal (section 1). Police officers are required to report any suspected illegal immigrant arrestees to ICE, although this does not apply to suspected domestic abuses until a conviction has been reached. The act also declares that state and local law enforcement officials should actively pursue any and all federal monies available that reimburse states for enforcing federal immigration laws. Any local government that does not subscribe to this act will not be eligible for state grants (section 2).

Ohio SB 9 (signed 3/1/2006) states that state and local authorities should comply with the US Patriot Act.  This bill requires that a driver’s license applicant be a resident or a temporary resident of the state of Ohio (section 4507.08). The legislation requires ICE to be notified when a suspected non-citizen pleads guilty to or is convicted of a felony. The bill also requires a list of all unauthorized immigrants currently serving prison terms to be compiled and given to ICE to determine if ICE wishes to gain custody of any undocumented prisoner. Aliens currently serving prison terms should be released to the custody of ICE upon completion of their prison term (section 2909.30).

Oklahoma SB 1970 (signed 4/10/2006) requires that all police or peace officers prove U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status  before being certified as an officer (section 1).

South Dakota SB 63 (signed 2/28/2006) includes ICE officers in the definition of federal law enforcement officer (section 1).

Legal Services/Assistance

Kansas HB 2485 (signed 3/20/2006) requires notary publics to advertise that they are not authorized to practice law nor give advice as immigration lawyers (section 1). Notary publics can be terminated if their citizenship status is revoked (section 2).

Maine HB 1398/ LD 1996 (signed 5/4/2006),  referred to as the Immigration and Nationality Law Assistance Act,  specifies requirements for those wishing to provide immigration law services, allowing only those lawyers who have passed the bar to dispense legal immigration advice. The bill also makes state requirements the same as federal requirements for those wishing to practice immigration law (section 3).  An immigration assistance provider may not state that he or she receives special privileges or expedited service from any government agency. Notary publics are required to advertise that they do not offer immigration legal services (section 4).

Tennessee HB 3069 (signed by House and Senate Speakers 6/8/2006) prohibits a notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in the state from advising or assisting in selecting or completing forms affecting or relating to a person's immigration status unless that conduct is specifically authorized by federal law (section 3).

Vermont SB 182 (signed 5/2/2006) requires courts to advise defendants of immigration consequences when pleading guilty to criminal offenses. These consequences include denial of U. S. citizenship or deportation. If the court fails to alert the defendant prior to an admission of guilt, the verdict must be retracted and the defendant may enter a plea of not guilty (section 1).

Gun permits

Georgia HB 1032 (signed 4/20/2006) provides for a check of ICE records for non-citizen applicants. Non-citizen applicants are not permitted to obtain a gun permit (section 1).

Virginia HB 1577 (signed 4/19/2006) denies anyone unlawfully residing in the U.S. permission to obtain a handgun permit.


Alcohol and Tobacco: Wyoming HB 144 (signed 3/11/2006) allows a permanent resident card or internationally accepted passport to be used as acceptable documentation to rent a keg (section 1).

Residency Definition: Idaho HB 457 (signed 3/15/2006) excludes non-resident aliens, defined under the Internal Revenue Code, from the definition of state resident (section 1).

Reporting: Virginia HB 1046 (signed 4/5/2006) requires officers to report to ICE a juvenile who has committed a violent act that would be a crime if committed by an adult and who has also been found to be in the U.S. illegally.

Vetoed Bills

Arizona SB 1157 (vetoed:  4/17/2006) would have criminalized illegal entry into Arizona and allowed trespassers to be prosecuted.

Arizona HB 2577 (vetoed: 6/6/06) would have criminalized illegal immigration status, provided $160 million in aid to law enforcement agencies to stop flow of immigrants, established fines for businesses who continue to hire undocumented workers after warnings, required law enforcement agencies to train employees in immigration enforcement procedures, and denied education benefits to immigrants.

Arizona HB 2701 (vetoed 3/9/2006) would have allowed the governor to mobilize the National Guard to enforce the border if the state issues a state of emergency resulting from an excessive number of illegal border crossings.

Wisconsin SB 567 (vetoed 5/26/2006) would have required all applicants for state benefit programs to show proof of citizenship or legal immigration status.

Bills Pending Gubernatorial Action

Hawaii HB 2051 (passed both House and Senate 5/3/2006) contains a section on immigration status of trafficking victims; allows for "continued presence " status.

Hawaii SB 2263 (passed both House and Senate 4/5/2006) requires the issuing authority to perform an inquiry on non-citizen applicants by using the ICE databases for the National Instant Criminal Background check system before approving or denying a gun permit.

Prepared by:

Ann Morse, Adam Blott, and Leya Speasmaker  
Immigrant Policy Project
National Conference of State Legislatures
Washington, DC office


1A variety of terms exist that refer to the entire class of immigrants residing in the United States without authorization. These terms include unauthorized immigrant, unauthorized migrant, undocumented immigrant, illegal immigrant, and illegal alien. For consistency, this brief usually refers to ‘unauthorized immigrant’ for those immigrants who have either entered unauthorized into the United States or who have overstayed their visas.  The term “illegal alien” is used where state legislation specifically refers to “illegal alien” .  The term “non-citizen” includes both legal and unauthorized immigrants. 

2The terms smuggling and human trafficking are often thought to be interchangeable. However, smuggling refers to illegally crossing a border, and it is a crime for both the smuggler and the person smuggled. Human trafficking is the practice of forced labor, typically in the sex industry, and does not require a crossing of any border. The trafficker, not the victim, commits the criminal act.