States passed record number of immigration laws in 2010
In 2010, as Congress again failed to consider comprehensive immigration reform, states considered or passed a record number of immigration-related bills and resolutions, according to a new report from the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). As in previous years, employment, law enforcement and identification/driver’s licenses remained the top issues addressed in state legislation related to immigrants.
Arizona’s new immigration laws, which required law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally, received the most attention. However, according to NCSL’s report, every state that met in regular session in 2010 considered laws related to legal immigrants, migrant and seasonal workers, refugees or unauthorized immigrants and other immigration-related topics.
Forty-six state legislatures and the District of Columbia enacted 208 laws and adopted 138 resolutions for a total of 346. Ten additional bills were vetoed. During the same period in 2009, 44 states enacted 202 laws and adopted 131 resolutions for a total of 333. Twenty bills in 2009 were vetoed. Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas were not in regular session in 2010.
E-verify legislation was enacted in four states — Georgia, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. A new area of concern for state legislators in 2010 was international child abductions, and Alabama, Florida and Tennessee enacted laws to help prevent them. Six bills similar to Arizona’s were introduced in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, but none were enacted. “State legislatures will continue to step forward and create local solutions without comprehensive federal legislation,” said William Pound, NCSL executive director. “In the long term, immigration policy requires federal reform, and states look forward to working with the federal government to find effective solutions.”
Summaries of all enacted laws and resolutions are available online in a searchable database and in a chart sorted alphabetically by state and by category at www.ncsl.org/programs/immig.