Immigration remains a high-profile topic nationally and in state legislatures. While congressional efforts face a stalemate in overhauling the national immigration system, last achieved in 1986, state legislators are taking action where they can. Over the last 10 years, state legislators have enacted an average of 153 laws per year. Perennial debates have included the appropriate role for states in civil or criminal immigration enforcement, weighing compliance with immigration detainers or collaboration on drug smuggling, gangs, and human trafficking. They also considered the public safety value of issuing state driver’s licenses and the educational worth of extending in-state tuition benefits. In recent years, as baby boomers retire and labor shortages develop in certain fields, legislators have looked at the untapped talent of foreign-trained professionals and enacted laws to make state licensing and credentialing more transparent and effective. States also adopted resolutions, seeking congressional or administrative action on immigration. One day, these state-level approaches may yield innovations that help advance national immigration reform.
Enacted legislation related to immigration increased in 2019 by 3% to 181 laws, compared with 175 laws in 2018. The number of resolutions decreased by 39% to 135 from 222. Lawmakers in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico enacted 181 laws and 135 resolutions related to immigration, for a total of 316. An additional 16 bills were vetoed by governors. Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, West Virginia and Wisconsin did not enact immigration-related legislation in 2019.
Census. Eight states addressed the 2020 census and immigrant residents. California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Illinois and Rhode Island enacted laws and resolutions promoting an accurate count of immigrant communities for the forthcoming 2020 census. Colorado and Massachusetts also funded outreach grant programs for hard-to-count communities, including immigrants. Montana adopted resolutions asking Congress for a citizenship question to be included in the census, while Nevada passed a resolution opposing a citizenship question. Kentucky adopted a resolution opposing illegal immigrants being counted in the census. California made it a misdemeanor to misidentify oneself as a census employee conducting a government census and Illinois banned census data from being shared with immigration and law enforcement agencies.
Offices/task forces on immigration and integration. Four states—Illinois, Michigan, Nevada and Vermont—passed legislation to create a task force to provide services and resources to new immigrants. Vermont’s law specifically focused on workforce development, while task forces in Michigan, Nevada and Illinois are charged with reviewing state resources available to new Americans. The Michigan and Illinois task forces will review and report on federal immigration enforcement in their respective states. New Jersey’s governor signed Executive Order 74 creating an Interagency Workgroup on New American Integration and requiring the departments of Human Services and Labor and Workforce Development to improve immigrant and refugee integration, including creating an Office of New Americans.
Occupational licensing. Nine states enacted measures to expand licensing and credentialing options for citizens and noncitizens with professional training. Arkansas authorized the State Board of Nursing to license recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and added a medical fellowship as a method for a foreign medical graduate to obtain a license to practice medicine. California, Illinois and Nevada prohibited denying occupational or professional licenses based solely on the applicant's citizenship or immigration status. Maine repealed a residency provision for applicants and a character reference requirement for foreign-trained applicants. New Jersey established a pilot program for licensing those with a barber's license from another state or foreign country. Oregon required professional licensing boards to study how immigrants or refugees become licensed and to reduce barriers for them. Vermont required the Department of Labor to help employers address the unique language, transportation, cultural and other challenges for new Americans in the workforce. Washington’s statewide work group will develop strategies with private-sector businesses, labor and immigrant advocacy organizations to support industries, strengthen career pathways for immigrants, provide predictability and stability in the agriculture workforce, and recommend approaches to attract and retain immigrant business owners.
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. New Hampshire established a commission to study licensing drivers from foreign countries and make recommendations.
Sanctuary policies/immigration enforcement. While there is no legal definition for sanctuary policies, the term is applied to jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Ten states and the District of Columbia addressed immigration enforcement. Arkansas made municipalities that enact a sanctuary policy ineligible for state discretionary funds and Florida prohibited the state, localities or law enforcement agencies from adopting a sanctuary policy. California and the District of Columbia limit state law enforcement agencies from sharing information regarding an individual's citizenship or immigration status for the purpose of immigration enforcement. Colorado, Connecticut and the District of Columbia established limits on civil immigration detainers. Illinois prohibits a state law enforcement agency or official from entering into an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Washington requires the attorney general to publish model policies for limiting immigration enforcement, consistent with federal and state law, at public schools, health facilities, courthouses and shelters. Oregon appropriated $2 million for the Innovation Law Lab to help connect immigrants with legal assistance. Vermont allows additional restrictions on law enforcement agency communication and involvement with federal immigration authorities or communications regarding citizenship or immigration status. Nevada requires those questioning a prisoner in the custody of a county or city jail or detention facility about his or her immigration status to inform the prisoner of the purpose of those questions.
Education/civics. In 2019, Indiana, Nebraska and Texas became the latest states to add portions of the federal naturalization exam to high school civics curricula and testing requirements. Arkansas allowed DACA students to be eligible for in-state tuition.
Requests for federal action. In 2019, 12 states—Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas and Utah—adopted 22 resolutions seeking congressional or administrative action on immigration. Georgia, Illinois and Kentucky adopted resolutions urging the enactment of legislation to secure the citizenship of internationally adopted individuals. Five states—Georgia, Kentucky, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas—passed resolutions calling for increased funding to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. Arkansas supported President Donald Trump and the Arkansas congressional delegation on the border security issue and urged a long-term funding solution. California and Illinois urged Congress to grant visas to DACA-eligible children. California urged repeal of regulations adopted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on public charge, meaning dependent on government assistance.
- The largest category—25% of all laws—are budget and appropriations laws, authorizing funds for purposes including immigration enforcement, immigrant integration, English literacy classes, and migrant and refugee services.
- Legislation related to law enforcement, such as communicating with federal immigration agencies, complying with immigration detainers, certification for U visas and providing legal services, accounted for 19%.
- 18% of laws focused on employment, work authorization and E-Verify, limiting workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance. A new trend is legislation addressing occupational licensing and certification for foreign-trained professionals.
- 12% of laws dealt with education, addressing immigration and residency requirements for access to higher education, in-state tuition or financial assistance at educational institutions. A new trend is legislation to include the federal naturalization exam in high school civics requirements.
- 8% of laws addressed public benefits such as eligibility for social services or assisting those with special immigrant juvenile status.
- Legislation related to IDs/driver’s licenses and other licenses made up 5% of all enacted laws on immigration.
- 5% of laws related to health, such as eligibility criteria for health care programs, language access or licensing related to health professionals.
- 2% of laws addressed human trafficking, such as penalties for withholding or destroying immigration documents and providing assistance to victims.
Methodology: This report summarizes laws and resolutions enacted between January and December 2019. Laws included in this overview address legal immigrants, migrant and seasonal workers, refugees or unauthorized immigrants. Terms used in this report by and large reflect those used in the state legislation. In some state legislative language, unauthorized immigrants are also described as “illegal immigrants,” “undocumented immigrants” or “aliens.”
Lawmakers in 23 states and the District of Columbia enacted 45 laws appropriating funds for various immigration services. Those states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.
These laws typically appropriate funds for refugee services, migrant health, naturalization services, law enforcement, or education and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.
- California AB 74. This budget law includes funds for legal services to unaccompanied, undocumented minors and for immigrant integration; mental health assessments in support of applications for immigration remedies, such as asylum-seekers and applicants for T visas, U visas and Special Immigrant Juvenile status; and a Rapid Response Program to provide contracts or grants to entities, including nonprofit organizations, that provide critical assistance to immigrants during emergent situations when federal funding is not available to support such assistance.
- Colorado HB 1239. This legislation, the Every Person Counts in Colorado Act, promotes an accurate count in the decennial census by creating a census outreach grant program for hard-to-count communities. These are communities and populations that have been historically undercounted by previous censuses. They include children under 5 years old, racial and ethnic minorities, communities of color, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, people with disabilities, people with low incomes, immigrants, people who speak and understand limited amounts of English, people living in rural areas, those without sufficient internet access, adults ages 60 and older, and people who are transient or homeless.
- Iowa HB 758. This appropriations law funds a pilot project to provide supplemental support services for international refugees to improve learning, English literacy, life skills, cultural competencies and integration in a county with a population over 350,000 as determined by the 2010 census. The pilot project will provide access to international resources for Iowans and new Iowans to provide economic and leadership development, resulting in Iowa being a more inclusive and welcoming place to live, work and raise a family.
- Massachusetts HB 4000. This budget law for 2020 includes funds for a statewide competitive grant program to ensure a complete and accurate count in the 2020 census, with tailored outreach and support to homeless populations, households with limited English and immigrant communities. It also includes funding for the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants and services for refugees.
- Michigan HB 4239. This budget law appropriates funds for the Department of Regulatory and Licensing and includes funds for refugee services and the Michigan Office for New Americans. The office, along with the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, the Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs and the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan, must submit a report to the legislature by Jan. 31, 2020. The report must include the number of education and workforce training programs the office conducted, the number of people the office helped navigate the immigration system, and a description of the activities the office conducted to attract and retain international, advanced degree and entrepreneurial talent.
- Minnesota HB 2a. This budget law funds the Department of Employment and Economic Development. It includes a one-time grant to the Construction Careers Foundation for the construction career pathway initiative to provide year-round educational and experiential learning opportunities for teens and young adults under age 21 that lead to careers in the construction industry. Programs and services supported by grant funds must give priority to individuals and groups that are economically disadvantaged or historically underrepresented in the construction industry, including women, veterans, and members of minority and immigrant groups.
- New Jersey AB 5610. This supplemental appropriations law includes grants for legal assistance to individuals facing detention or deportation based on their immigration status.
- South Carolina HB 4000. This appropriations law includes a provision that no state funds shall be expended to assist in the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program unless the county council in the county where the resettlement is to occur approves the relocation. It includes funds for the state criminal alien assistance program and the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s responsibilities under the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act. At the request of the Commission on Minority Affairs, the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation must provide assistance to establish and maintain a 24-hour toll-free telephone number and website. The purpose is to receive and report allegations of violations of federal immigration laws or related provisions of South Carolina law—either by or against—any non-U.S. citizen or immigrant. These include violating E-Verify or other federal work authorization program, immigration assistance services, regulations governing the operation of immigration assistance services, human trafficking laws, landlord tenant laws, or any law pertaining to the provision or receipt of public assistance benefits or public services. It also includes false or fraudulent statements made or documents filed in relation to an immigration matter.
- Texas HB 1. This appropriations law includes grants to local political subdivisions to support Operation Border Star. The grant funds may also be awarded for the humane processing of the remains of undocumented migrants or to an established regional center for public safety excellence to provide training to law enforcement personnel conducting border security operations. The law also includes funds for the state criminal alien assistance program, U.S.-Mexico Immigration Center, Texas-Mexico border health, economic development at the border, and a report on border security cost-containment efforts.
Lawmakers in 12 states enacted 22 laws: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas.
These laws usually pertain to immigration and residency requirements for access to higher education, in-state tuition, or financial assistance at educational institutions. Some laws address enhanced learning for refugees or English learners. A recent trend is legislation to include the federal naturalization exam in high school civics requirements.
- Arkansas HB 1684. This legislation permits graduates of a state public or private high school who have resided in the state for a certain amount of time to receive in-state tuition and fees at a state-supported institution of higher education. Applicants must 1) hold a federal work permit or be the child of someone with a work permit, 2) be an Arkansas resident legally present from the Republic of the Marshall Islands or 3) be a DACA recipient.
- California AB 1645. This legislation requires California Community Colleges and California State University, and requests the University of California, to designate a “Dreamer” resource liaison on each of their campuses. The liaison will assist students, including undocumented students, in meeting specified requirements by streamlining access to all available financial aid, social services, state funding, immigration legal services, internships, externships and academic opportunities.
- Colorado HB 1196. This legislation allows certain undocumented students who meet the criteria for classification as in-state students for tuition purposes to be eligible for state-funded financial assistance programs offered by the Department of Higher Education.
- Indiana SB 132. This law requires each high school to administer the naturalization examination provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the United States government credit.
- Nebraska LB 399. This law requires the school social studies curriculum to include a written test identical to the entire civics portion of the naturalization test used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services prior to completing eighth grade and again prior to completing 12th grade as one option to demonstrate understanding of American civics.
- New York SB 1250. This law allows an applicant who is not a legal resident of the state but is a U.S. citizen, a permanent lawful resident, a lawful nonimmigrant alien or an applicant without lawful immigration status to be eligible for in-state tuition. The applicant must have attended a state high school for two years and graduated and applied for college within five years of receiving a high school diploma. A student without lawful immigration status shall also be required to file an affidavit with such institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file such an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so. The law also creates a DREAM commission to raise private funds to assist with higher education costs.
- Texas HB 1244. This law requires the civics education graduation test to include 10 questions randomly selected from the civics test administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the naturalization process.
For more information, please see NCSL’s publication on in-state tuition and unauthorized immigrant students.
Lawmakers in 15 states enacted 33 laws: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.
These laws address eligibility for unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, work authorization and E-Verify, employer retaliation and occupational licensing.
- Arkansas HB 1552. This legislation authorizes the state Board of Nursing to license recipients of the DACA program.
- Illinois SB 1166. This law states that, except as otherwise provided by law, no department may deny an occupational or professional license based solely on the applicant's citizenship or immigration status. This provision does not grant eligibility for any public benefit other than a license.
- Maine HB 1209. This law establishes a Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Revolving Loan Program to provide financial assistance to immigrants who need help paying for certain costs (such as translating documents) prior to receiving a work permit and English or job instruction after receiving a work permit.
- Nevada AB 275. This law prohibits a regulatory body from denying an application for a license, certificate or permit based solely on the applicant’s immigration or citizenship status. It also authorizes applicants to provide their individual taxpayer identification number on their application if the applicant does not have a Social Security number. The law repeals a requirement that licensees be a citizen of the United States or otherwise authorized to work in the United States.
- Oregon SB 855. This law requires professional licensing boards to study how immigrants or refugees become licensed, certified or otherwise authorized in the occupational or professional service regulated by the professional licensing board. Each professional licensing board shall develop and implement methods to reduce barriers to licensure, certification or other authorization for applicants who may be immigrants or refugees. Licensing boards are required to report on progress to the Legislative Assembly.
- Pennsylvania HB 1170. The Construction Industry Employee Verification Act prohibits employers from hiring unauthorized employees and requires the use of E-Verify.
- Vermont HB 533. This law requires the Vermont Department of Labor to increase the availability of training programs that lead to a credential of value. The department must assess tools needed for refugees to effectively apply preexisting educational and professional credentials in Vermont settings.
- Washington SB 5438. This law aims to clarify the state's role in the H-2A temporary agricultural program to provide adequate protections for foreign and domestic workers and provide education and outreach opportunities to help growers maintain the stable workforce they need.
- Washington SB 5497. This law establishes a "keep Washington working” statewide work group to: 1) develop strategies with private-sector businesses, labor and immigrant advocacy organizations to support current and future industries across the state, 2) conduct research on methods to strengthen career pathways for immigrants and create and enhance partnerships with projected growth industries, 3) support business and agriculture leadership, civic groups, government and immigrant advocacy organizations in a statewide effort to provide predictability and stability to the workforce in the agriculture industry, and 4) recommend approaches to improve Washington's ability to attract and retain immigrant business owners that provide new business and trade opportunities.
NCSL’s report on occupational licensing for work-authorized immigrants is available online.
Lawmakers in nine states enacted 10 laws: California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, New York and Washington.
These laws typically pertain to eligibility requirements for Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), language access and eligibility criteria for licenses within the health profession.
- California SB 104. This law extends eligibility for full-scope Medi-Cal benefits to individuals 19 to 25 years of age who are otherwise eligible for those benefits but for their immigration status. It establishes the Healthy California for All Commission. The commission must submit a report to the legislature and the governor with an analysis of California's existing health care delivery system, along with options for a unified financing system and coverage expansions, including potential funding sources. Options shall include expansion for full-scope Medi-Cal to individuals over 64 years of age, regardless of immigration status.
- Washington SB 5846. This law establishes the international medical graduate (IMG) work group to study barriers to practice and make recommendations on how the state can implement an assistance program to help IMGs integrate into the Washington health care delivery system. The work group must develop strategies and recommendations for reducing barriers for IMGs to obtain residency positions in Washington, including preresidency training.
For more information, please see NCSL's publication on immigrant eligibility for health care.
Lawmakers in three states—Idaho, Maryland and Texas—passed four laws.
These laws provide benefits and protections to victims of human trafficking and address penalties for traffickers.
- Maryland SB 689. This law adds labor trafficking to Maryland’s criminal code. A person may not persuade another by force, fraud or coercion to provide services or labor. Coercion includes destroying or withholding a passport, immigration document or government ID of an individual; exposing information that would subject an individual to criminal or immigration proceedings; or notifying state or federal government that an individual is present in the United States in violation of federal immigration law.
- Texas HB 888. This law makes it a class B misdemeanor for a person who knowingly misrepresents a child as his or her family member to a peace officer or federal special investigator at a port of entry. It requires the Health and Human Services Commission, to the extent permitted by federal law and regardless of the nationality of the child, to ensure a child who is used in the commission of such an offense is provided Medicaid benefits.
Lawmakers in 10 states enacted 10 laws: Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Vermont.
In addition to providing for the eligibility of state-issued identification cards and driver’s licenses, these laws address a range of topics, including professional licenses, firearm permits, hunting and recreational permits, and documentation requirements for driver’s license applications.
- New Hampshire HB 140. This law establishes a commission to study the licensing of drivers from foreign countries and make recommendations.
- New York AB 3675. This law allows driver's licenses to be issued to undocumented residents and protects the data of those applying for such privilege from unwarranted release.
- Oregon HB 2015. This law eliminates the requirement that a person provide proof of legal presence before the Department of Transportation issues a noncommercial driver’s license, noncommercial driver’s permit or identification card.
NCSL’s report on driver’s licenses and immigrants is available online.
Lawmakers in 14 states and the District of Columbia enacted 35 laws: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Oregon and Vermont.
These laws typically pertain to immigration enforcement and the requirements for communicating with federal law enforcement agencies or complying with immigration detainers. They also include certification for temporary visas for unauthorized immigrant victims or witnesses to crimes and providing legal services to noncitizens.
- Arkansas HB 1523. This law limits using restraints on an inmate or detainee verified to be pregnant, in labor or in post-partum recovery in a correctional or detention facility. A detainee includes a person detained under the immigration laws of the United States.
- California AB 1563. This law makes it a misdemeanor for any person to falsely represent him or herself to be a public official or public employee conducting a government census. The measure aims to protect undocumented immigrants and encourage participation in the census.
- California AB 1747. This law prohibits a state law enforcement agency from making information regarding an individual's citizenship or immigration status available to anyone or any entity for the purpose of immigration enforcement.
- Colorado HB 1124. This law prohibits law enforcement officers from arresting or detaining an individual based on a civil immigration detainer request. The law does not preclude law enforcement officers from enforcing any criminal law or participating in coordinated law enforcement actions with federal law enforcement agencies in enforcing local, state or federal criminal laws.
- Delaware SB 97. This law ratifies the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Act. The compact organizes an electronic information-sharing system among the federal government and the states to exchange criminal history records for noncriminal justice purposes authorized by federal or state law. "Noncriminal justice purposes" is defined as using criminal history records for reasons other than those relating to criminal justice activities, including employment suitability, licensing determinations, immigration and naturalization matters, and national security clearances.
- Florida SB 168. This law prohibits a state entity, local governmental entity or law enforcement agency from having a sanctuary policy, which is a law, policy, practice, procedure or custom that restricts a law enforcement agency’s ability to communicate with a federal immigration agency on immigration enforcement matters or comply with immigration detainers. The law also requires a county correctional facility to enter into an agreement with a federal immigration agency to pay costs associated with housing and detaining defendants.
- Maryland HB 214. This law permits guardians or friends to request a petition for a U nonimmigrant visa for a victim of crime.
- Nevada AB 336. This law requires the certifying agency for a temporary U immigration visa to determine whether the petitioner was the victim of applicable criminal activity and was helpful, is being helpful or is likely to be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of that criminal activity. The law prohibits a certifying agency from disclosing the immigration status of a petitioner unless the agency is required to do so because of federal law or a court order or the petitioner consents, in writing, to such a disclosure.
- Oregon SB 962. This law directs agencies to certify to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services victims’ helpfulness in detecting, investigating or prosecuting qualifying criminal activity in response to U nonimmigrant visa requests.
NCSL’s FAQ on sanctuary policy.
Lawmakers in seven states enacted eight laws: California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada and Oklahoma.
This category typically includes immigration-related issues that do not fit in other categories and are addressed infrequently, memberships on task forces and commissions, and studies of immigration.
- California SB 225. This law permits a person, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, to be eligible to hold an appointed civil office if the person is 18 years of age and a resident of the state. It is the intent of the legislature to remove barriers to service and authorize all California residents, including those without lawful immigration status, to serve on California's diverse local and state boards and commissions so that their perspectives and voices are heard.
- Illinois HB 3196. This law creates a one-year Immigration Task Force requiring legislative, executive and immigrant organizations to assess the status of immigrant communities in the state and make recommendations. Issues to assess include what Illinois is doing to help immigrant communities, including whether immigrants are receiving help to become citizens and business owners, and whether they are receiving aid for educational purposes. The organization will also assess the practices and procedures of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency within Illinois and the use and condition of detention centers. A report is due by May 31, 2020.
- Oklahoma HB 2618. This law requires any public body that collects personally identifiable data to make available on its website what is being stored, how it's being stored and with whom the information is being shared. Personally identifiable data includes name, Social Security number, official state- or government-issued driver’s license or identification number, alien registration number, government passport number, employer or taxpayer identification number, or any other information that is linked or linkable to an individual, such as medical, educational, financial or employment information.
Lawmakers in nine states and the District of Columbia enacted 14 laws: California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Oregon.
These laws address social service programs that affect all people covered by the programs—immigrants and nonimmigrants alike—and laws that ensure benefits are granted only to eligible immigrants.
- California AB 378. This law grants bargaining rights to child care workers. In its findings, the legislature notes that the early care and education workforce is almost exclusively female and predominantly people of color, including many recent immigrants, first-generation college students and working mothers.
- New Mexico SB 23. This law creates a fostering connections program for young adults to provide health care, housing and other services. The citizenship or immigration status of a young adult may not be a factor when determining the young adult's eligibility for this program. Case management services to assist in the transition from fostering connections to adulthood include help obtaining employment or other financial support; a government-issued identification card; and appropriate community resources, including health, mental health, developmental disability and other disability services and support. Services also include assistance in applying for special immigrant juvenile status under federal law or applying for other immigration relief for which the eligible adult may be qualified.
Lawmakers in two states enacted two laws: Arkansas and Montana.
These laws typically clarify voter registration requirements and valid documents to prove U.S. citizenship. Some address foreign contributions to elections.
- Arkansas HB 1388. This law ensures registered voters are U.S. citizens and creates a process to transfer information from the judiciary to the voter registration officials.
- Montana SB 326 This law prohibits foreign national interference in an election. It is unlawful for a foreign national, directly or through an intermediary, to make a disbursement for an electioneering communication, contribution or expenditure, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or expenditure, in connection with any candidate election.
Legislators in 23 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia adopted 131 resolutions: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
Resolutions generally proclaim days or months of recognition in honor of immigrants and cultural heritage of immigrants, commend individuals, and urge the federal government to take action.
In 2019, 12 states—Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas and Utah—adopted 21 resolutions seeking congressional or administrative action on immigration. Georgia, Illinois and Kentucky adopted resolutions urging the enactment of legislation to secure the citizenship of internationally adopted individuals. Five states—Georgia, Kentucky, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas—passed resolutions calling for increased funding to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. Arkansas supported President Donald Trump and the Arkansas congressional delegation on the border security issue and urged a long-term funding solution. California and Illinois urged the U.S. Congress to grant visas to DACA-eligible children. Kentucky and Montana called for a citizenship question to be added to the 2020 census to determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College. Nevada urged Congress to prevent the U.S. Census Bureau from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census.
- California ACR 1. This resolution condemns regulations adopted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to prescribe how a determination of inadmissibility for a person who is not a citizen or national is made based on the likelihood that the person will become a public charge. It urged the federal government to repeal the new regulations.
- California AJR 9. This resolution urges the federal government to stop using ruses against immigrants, revise the tactics used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), cease the unjust detention of undocumented immigrants, end blanket raids against individuals thought to be without documents, and adopt a standard uniform for ICE officers that clearly identifies them as ICE when operating in the state.
- District of Columbia R 437. This resolution declares the existence of an emergency with respect to the need to expand the Standby Guardianship Law to enable a parent, legal guardian or legal custodian who is, or may be, subject to an adverse immigration action, to make short-term plans for a child without terminating or limiting that person's parental or custodial rights.
- Georgia HR 82. This resolution commends Dr. Pierluigi Mancini for his outstanding achievements on behalf of immigrant mental health.
- Georgia SR 114. This resolution urges Congress to pass funding legislation that will secure the southern border of the United States.
- Hawaii SR 161. This resolution urges the Department of Human Services to create a Compact of Free Association Advisory Body.
- Illinois HR 116. This resolution commends the Simon Wiesenthal Center on its efforts to bring mobile tolerance education to communities throughout to help prevent further incidents of hate and discrimination.
- Illinois HR 241. This resolution urges the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that provides the right to visas for the undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children or DACA-eligible children and parents with Temporary Protected Status with U.S. citizen children or children brought here before age 16. The legislation would allow them and their children to stay and work legally in this country to provide for the economic, physical, and spiritual security and development of those children. It urges the U.S. congress to pass a clean DACA bill.
- Kentucky HR 230. This resolution urges the president and Congress to enact legislation to secure the citizenship of internationally adopted adult individuals.
- Kentucky HR 15a. This resolution urges the attorney general of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to join with Alabama in its legal cause of action against the United States Department of Commerce and the Bureau of the Census or to initiate a separate legal cause of action on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It would declare the Residence Rule unlawful as violative of the Constitution of the United States and the long-standing principle of "one person, one vote." It also urges the attorney general to vacate and set aside the Residence Rule insofar as it permits or requires the Census Bureau to include illegal aliens in the population figures used to conduct the apportionment of the House of Representatives and the Electoral College among the states, and federal funding.
- Montana HJR 26. This resolution urges Congress to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
- New Jersey SR 40. This resolution urges the federal Internal Revenue Service to devote additional resources to combat the recent surge in tax-related scams that seek to defraud unsuspecting taxpayers and often con the victim into making payment on the bogus bill by using threats of arrest, deportation, license revocation or the seizure of valuable assets.
- New Jersey SR 83. This resolution commemorates the 29th anniversary of the state-Taiwan sister state relationship and recognizes the importance of strong and enduring relations between the state and Taiwan. Individuals from Taiwan who have immigrated to this country and to New Jersey have contributed greatly to the state's diversity, thriving international culture and economic development.
- Nevada AJR 6. This resolution urges Congress to prevent the U.S. Census Bureau from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census.
- Puerto Rico HR 676. This resolution orders the House Committee on Finance to investigate how the Immigrant Investor Program created by Congress, known as the EB-5 visa, has been fostered and implemented in the United States.
- Texas SR 535. This resolution declares the crisis at the Texas-Mexico international border an emergency and requests that Congress adopt a budget that fully funds all means necessary to fully secure the Texas-Mexico international border. The resolution requests that the federal government cease separating families at the border as a means of deterring refugees, and to humanely process refugee and asylum seekers.
- Utah HR 3. This resolution urges a humane response to the humanitarian crises at the U.S. and Mexico border. It recognizes the plight of millions of people who fled their country seeking relief from civil conflict or other hardships and it opposes separating children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Credits, Sources, Other Resources
This report was prepared by:
- Ann Morse, program director, Immigrant Policy Project, NCSL
- David St. John, fall intern, NCSL
- Carlee Goldberg, spring intern, NCSL
- Molly Ramsdell, director, Washington, D.C., office, NCSL
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, February 2020
This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.