In 2011, every state legislature considered an immigration-related bill. Most of these bills were anti-immigrant measures. In an Issue Brief released on Tuesday [2/7], the Advancement Project reported that more than 1600 immigration bills were introduced in state legislatures throughout the country, and 42 states enacted some kind of anti-immigrant measure.
According to the Issue Brief, state immigration bills generally fell into one of four categories: (1) enforcement bills, authorizing, and in the harshest proposals mandating, police or other state officials to participate in federal enforcement programs and/or identify immigration status during government points of contact, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, or public benefit offices; (2) omnibus bills, which roll a number of related proposals, including enforcement measures, into one bill; (3) budget cuts to programs that serve immigrants; and (4) bills relating to access to higher education, such as barring in-state tuition or financial aid to students without legal status. The Advancement Project predicts that 2012 will see yet more enforcement and omnibus bills, particularly in states with growing immigrant populations.
The first of the anti-immigrant omnibus bills was passed in Arizona in 2010, with Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah passing “copycat laws” in 2011. Six states (Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee) introduced similar omnibus bills last year in their state legislature to be considered in 2012, and in Virginia, where state law does not allow for omnibus bills, 11 immigration enforcement bills have already been introduced in the state’s legislature this year. (more…)