Key Points from NCSL’s Policy Directive on Immigration Reform
- Border security and enforcement is critical. NCSL urges the federal government to fulfill its responsibilities with regard to border security, especially for personnel and improvements in technology and infrastructure.
- Immigration reform must address the fiscal impact on states. A critical component for NCSL support is State Impact Grants, a reliable, guaranteed funding source to ameliorate the costs states and localities bear in health, including public health, and education, including English language acquisition, to immigrant populations. Included in 2006 and 2007 immigration reform legislation by U.S. Senator Cornyn (R-TX) and then-Senator Clinton (D-NY), these grants are financed by a portion of the fees placed on immigrants applying for earned legalization. State impact grants must require state legislative appropriation, providing needed flexibility and accountability.
- Immigration reform legislation must contain full funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). The burden of incarcerating unauthorized immigrants who have committed crimes, been convicted and are serving their time in state and local jails should be fully borne by the federal government. SCAAP currently reimburses state governments for approximately 18 percent of the total costs incurred.
- Federal action must retain the existing federal authority and responsibility for enforcement of immigration law and must not preempt state law. The role of state and local law enforcement is limited to criminal, not civil, immigration laws.
- NCSL supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes a temporary worker program and the creation of an earned legalization program for illegal immigrants currently in the country. NCSL opposes amnesty. Earned legalization should include appropriate fines and penalties that are proportional to the violation.
Policy Directive Adopted August 2012
For further information, please contact the NCSL Immigration Program.