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Fewer immigration laws passed by states in 2012

A recent study suggests a couple of reasons why state immigration laws have decreased in 2012. Based on legislator response, states have shifted to worrying about budget balancing and other initiatives focused on financial recovery, rather than immigration measures. At the same time, U.S. courts have been weighing in on state authority in the enforcement of immigration laws.

According to a recent report, the number of resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees has declined 20 percent compared to the same period in 2011. State legislators in Florida and nationwide have focused attention on budget gaps and redistricting, citing pending litigation on authority to enforce laws as a reason to postpone any immigration law action. Evolution of immigration law will impact citizens, refugees, and illegal immigrants in Miami and nationwide.

Immigration legal issues are a hot button topic for citizens, businesses, employers, and for the 11 million illegal immigrants living and working in the United States. The issue has been divisive, forcing state and federal legislators to consider the ramifications of taking, or not taking, legislative action.

States have responded very differently to the immigration questions:

  • Two years ago, Arizona passed a law designed to drive illegal immigrants out of state, while some provisions of the law were blocked by a federal judge
  • Alabama amended its law this year to require police to detain people they suspect of being in the United States illegally if they cannot produce proper documentation
  • States continue to approve legislation that funds naturalization, migrant and refugee programs

In 2011, 30 state legislatures introduced more than 50 broad immigration bills similar to Arizona's. Five states, including Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island and West Virginia, have done so this year, but none were enacted, according to the report. State legislators are paying closer attention to issues involving driver's licenses, accounting for 18 percent of all new immigration laws.

Whether states are holding out for a federal mandate involving immigration, or steering away from immigration issues due to economic priorities remains to be seen. In either case, state and federal immigration law continues to evolve and impact the lives of immigrants and their families. An experienced advocate who is well-versed in the ever-changing state and federal law can effectively protect your rights.

Source: Reuters, "States passing fewer immigration law in 2012: study," Tim Gaynor, August 6, 2012.

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