State Laws Related to Immigrants and Immigration in 2008

Final Report

January 27,  2009

State legislatures continue tackling immigration issues in a variety of policy arenas at an unprecedented rate. 1305 pieces of legislation related to immigrants and immigration were introduced in 2008. In 41 states, at least one law or resolution was enacted, with a total of 206 laws and resolutions enacted nationwide. Three bills were vetoed by governors.

The 2008 level of activity is comparable to last year, when 1,562 bills were introduced and 240 laws were enacted. As in recent years, the top three areas of interest are identification/driver’s licenses, employment and law enforcement.

States continue to employ a range of enforcement and integration approaches. For example, Colorado created a pilot guest worker program to expedite the approval of foreign workers under the federal H-2A visa program and Arizona revisited employment-related legislation enacted in 2007. Iowa makes legal immigrant children and pregnant women eligible for SCHIP. Connecticut aims to address the needs of the Asian Pacific American community through English language instruction, health access and economic development. Arizona expanded its definition of smuggling of human beings to include the use of so-called “drop houses.” A Maryland law focuses on innovative ways to encourage heritage language learning while also encouraging new citizens of the United States to learn and master English. Several states commissioned studies to investigate the economic and fiscal impacts of immigration, including state remedies to recover money owed to the state by the federal government. Missouri, South Carolina and Utah passed omnibus legislation addressing issues such as employment, law enforcement, public benefits, legal services and identification/licensing.

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Previous Immigrant Policy Project reports:

The 2007 report is available at:

The 2006 report is available at:

The 2005 report is available at:



Last updated January 27, 2009

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