Immigration Newsletter

Friday, September 6, 2013

States Drive Positive Change on Immigration While House Is Stuck in Low Gear » Immigration Impact

States Drive Positive Change on Immigration While House Is Stuck in Low Gear » Immigration Impact

Despite the slow pace of immigration reform in the House of Representatives, it has been a banner year for legislation at the state level to help undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. As the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) explains in a new report, “Inclusive Policies Advance Dramatically in the States,” state legislatures approved laws allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, qualify for in-state tuition, and expand worker’s rights. And states and local governments considered measures to limit involvement with immigration enforcement. This was a sharp change from previous years when officials debated measures with provisions that mimicked Arizona’s SB-1070. In the wake of record numbers of Latino and Asian voters participating in the 2012 elections, several state legislatures by and large moved in a more positive direction as lawmakers from both parties supported pro-immigration measures.
According to NILC’s report, opening access to driver’s licenses, an issue that had been dormant or moving in a restrictive direction in some states, gained traction this year. Lawmakers in at least 19 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico introduced bills intended to allow immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses or permits. Before the 2013 legislative sessions, only Washington, New Mexico, and Utah issued driver’s licenses or driving privilege cards to immigrants regardless of immigration status. Now, seven additional states—Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Vermont, and Connecticut—as well as Puerto Rico allow it. (Some of the driver’s license bills are still pending or will be revisited in other states next year.) As well as expanding access to licenses, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez’s (R) attempts to repeal her state’s license policy were unsuccessful. And governors or state officials in every state except Arizona and Nebraska have confirmed that undocumented immigrants who receive temporary legal status through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy can apply for driver’s licenses.
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From Immigration Impact -- Click the link to see the whole article.

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