Across America, various States and cities are exploring updated US Immigration policies and positions in order to serve the needs of their community members as well as, at times, respond to the Trump administration's aggressive immigration agenda.
Based on the findings of the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures), nearly 300 immigration-related laws and resolutions were passed at individual state levels between January and June 2018.
Furthermore, as of June 2018, three states had enacted bills related to “sanctuary city” policies:
- California passed a law generally prohibiting its law enforcement agencies from contracting with the federal government for civil immigration detention purposes.
- A law enacted in Tennessee bars localities or officials “from adopting or enacting a sanctuary policy.” Under the new law, entities with such a policy are ineligible for certain state-level grants.
- Iowa passed a law that, among other things, prevents localities from adopting a policy seeking to limit participation in federal immigration enforcement activities.
The majority of these laws focused on integration and education programs, immigrant and refugee services, and law enforcement (none of these laws will affect US immigration visa options since visa laws are covered by the Federal government and not the individual States). The majority of these law changes will affect those already in the USA. In other cases, certain states have also responded to federal immigration actions through their own resolutions. As noted by the American Immigration Council (AIC), among the 175 resolutions adopted at the state level as of June, several opposed the Trump administration’s policies on immigration. For example, AIC noted that when the president implemented the policy separating migrant children from their parents at the border, within a week New Jersey, Vermont, and Puerto Rico adopted resolutions condemning the government’s actions.
There are several state legislatures still in session, therefore it is too early know just how many new state-level US immigration laws will pass in 2018. It is clear that US Immigration laws are nevertheless a top priority for many states as well as the Trump administration. As we move toward a new year, with many newly elected officials stepping into office, it will be interesting to see what 2019 brings.