For several years, state legislators have adopted a variety of approaches to fill gaps in federal responsibility for immigration policy and delays in immigration reforms.
According to a new immigration report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the 50 states and Puerto Rico have introduced a record 1,538 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees in the first quarter of 2011. This number surpasses the first quarter of 2010 by 358 bills.
In this edition of The Buzz at State Legislatures, we talk with several state legislators regarding immigration legislation. In April, 2010, Arizona made national news with its enactment of SB1070, which added new state penalties related to immigration enforcement.
Representative John Kavanagh of Arizona explained to The Buzz that the state was frustrated with federal inaction and the increasing crime, drug smuggling and human smuggling. Download ImmigrationCavanaugh *
Utah is trying a compromise on immigration that could end up being a model for other policymakers, or yet another law tangled up in court. Utah Senator Curtis Bramble spoke with The Buzz at State Legislatures magazine and told us why Utah is taking an approach that addresses both enforcement and the need for workers. Download ImmigrationBramble *
Immigration lawyer Kathleen Walker discusses the difference between civil and criminal immigration enforcement and reviews pending federal cases reviewing preemption and state authority in immigration policy. Federal immigration is a complex, dysfunctional system that has helped generate the responses from states. States are having to lead in the vacuum of federal inaction. Download ImmigrationWalker *
As State Legislatures magazine highlighted in its series of immigration articles in the March issue, states have adopted different approaches when dealing legal and illegal immigration. Some measures address immigration enforcement, such as cooperating with federal agencies on border enforcement, worksite enforcement, or human trafficking. Other measures seek to increase the integration of immigrants into the nation’s social, economic and civic life, such as English language classes, civic education, and naturalization assistance.
For more information on immigration legislation in the states, log onto NCSL website.
*Interviews highlighted in this podcast are drawn from the speakers for the immigration session at Phoenix Fall Forum, December 2010.