National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


Filling a Federal Void: States Experiment with Immigration Policy

The Issue

With Congressional debate on immigration reform stalled, the number of state-based immigration laws has increased dramatically. In 2011, 1,607 bills and resolutions were considered by various state legislatures, 306 were enacted. Many of these new laws are attempts to enforce federal immigration law. Two states—Arizona and Alabama—have stood out for enacting laws that have been particularly harsh, far-reaching and, ultimately, damaging to the reputations and economies of those states. Both of those states, as well as others, are being sued by the federal government, because these laws will interfere with the government’s enforcement of immigration laws.


The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks immigration-related legislation in the states, and summarizes developments by the type of issue they address. You can find that information on the NCSL Web site.

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