St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Discusses the Rise in State Laws that Touch on Immigration

Congress has still not passed comprehensive immigration reform and it appears as if the matter may die in the House. In the meantime, over 43 states have taken the matter in their own hands and passed immigration laws relating to undocumented and legal immigrants, migrants and refugees.

Record high resolutions passed in absence of comprehensive reform bill

Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. constitution, the federal government is in charge of passing immigration legislation and creating a uniform standard for all states to follow. Since the Senate and House have debated and worked on the new immigration reform bill, there still has been no decision leaving the states on their own to deal with individual immigration issues. Within the past six month period, a large number of legislatures have introduced hundreds of their own bills and resolutions stepping in for where Congress has failed.

A new study by the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Immigration Policy Project found that over 231 resolutions by state controlled legislatures were passed. The majority of these resolutions were passed by legislatures in Border States. Some of the main issues that most states implemented laws about included driver’s license issues and identification card resolutions which comprised 23 percent of all enacted laws. However, the inequity between state laws and procedures many times causes confusion and problems for immigrants.

Inequity between states on immigration policies

Because there is no sense of uniformity between the immigration laws in different states, some states have passed harsher legislation that require individuals to prove their legal status or risk losing their jobs. For example, Republican-controlled state legislatures in Indiana and Utah require that state colleges verify the immigration status of all those admitted and enrolled and deny scholarships to those who do not have a lawful status.

The rise in the number of resolutions and laws passed in state legislatures may be due to the DACA program, which grants temporary work authorization and a deportation stay for young undocumented immigrants. Eight of the resolutions passed this year were related to comprehensive immigration reform that states are impatiently waiting for. While immigration policies has always been a federal issue, in the absence of reform, states will have to continue to deal with the 11 million undocumented individuals already living in the country.

While the Missouri legislature has had its share of immigration bills considered and passed, 2012 was a relatively quiet year on the immigration legislative front.

If you have questions regarding the new immigration reform, applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.