Trends in state immigration laws, from punitive to constructive
There has been a major change in state immigration legislation patterns State legislative activity rose in the late 2000s, taking on a punitive color, and rising to passage of the comprehensive Arizona law in 2010. That passage lead to other state laws aimed to driving out undocumented residents. All of these acts were challenged in court and some revisions results.
More recently, the focus of state legislatures is more constructive. There is a salutary recognition that states, their economies depending on undocumented workers, needed to provide these workers legal protections to drive. Also, state legislatures increasingly petition Congress to pass immigration reform at the federal level. For a detailed review of legislation, go here and here. The content below comes from these pages.
Latino Decisions notes that As of June 30, 2013, 43 states had enacted 146 laws and 231 resolutions focused on immigration. This is reflective of a larger pattern where state activity on immigration issues spiked from just 300 proposed bills and 39 enacted laws in 2005 to over 1,500 proposed bills and over 200 enacted state laws in 2009.
The first omnibus act was Arizona’s 2010 legislation, SB 1070.
Omnibus legislation related to immigration enforcement has largely disappeared. In 2011, 30 states introduced more than 50 bills, with Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah enacting laws similar to Arizona’s SB 1070. Each was challenged in court. In 2012, five states considered similar bills: Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island and West Virginia. None of these bills were enacted. Alabama amended its 2011 law, HB 56, enacting HB 658 in 2012. In 2013, only Georgia acted, by amending E-Verify requirements, public benefit definitions, and driver’s license requirements, and required agencies or political subdivisions to comply with federal law on public benefits for postsecondary education (S 160).
Driver’s licenses and IDs continued to be a top issue for states, with 35 laws enacted in 21 states, comprising 19 percent of all enacted laws on immigration.
Eight states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont—joined New Mexico, Utah and Washington in extending driver’s license eligibility to unauthorized residents. Georgia and Maine enacted more limited laws in 2013. Georgia allows for a temporary driving permit for those with pending visa extensions. Maine exempts certain older or long-term driver’s license holders from the legal presence requirement. (A law passed in the District of Columbia is pending review by Congress.)
Formal resolutions in support of immigration reform
Resolutions spiked in 2013, with 31 states adopting 253 resolutions, up from 111 in 2012. The largest contributor was Texas, adopting 96 resolutions commending the contributions of immigrants and seeking federal action. Resolutions encouraged action by the president, Congress or federal agencies, including at least 11 resolutions related to passing comprehensive immigration reform (California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania).