Study shows states passing fewer immigration laws in 2012

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 41 states enacted 114 bills and adopted 92 resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees in the first six months of 2012, a decline of 20 percent compared to the same period in 2011. This decline can be attributed to legislators’ shifting priorities, as balancing state budgets has gained national attention. Moreover, U.S. courts are questioning states’ jurisdiction in enforcing immigration laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Immigration Policy Project, “state lawmakers cited pending litigation on states’ authority to enforce immigration laws as further reason to postpone action.”

In 2011, 30 states followed in Arizona’s footsteps by passing over 50 similar broad immigration bills. Only five states–Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island, and West Virginia–have passed such bills this year, but thus far none have been enacted.

Eighteen percent and 11 percent of all immigration legislation enacted by state legislatures in the first half of 2012 pertain to identification and driver’s licenses, making these among the top issues in state immigration law.  Laws funding naturalization, migrant and refugee programs make up roughly 25% of the laws passed in the first half of the year.

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