October 6, 2008
Contact: Michelle Mittelstadt
Online, Searchable Database Collects, Classifies All Immigration Bills from 2007
WASHINGTON – State-level involvement in immigration issues
has increased dramatically in recent years. But even as public
attention has focused chiefly on legislation that would curtail
immigrants’ rights or crack down on illegal immigration,
measures that expand immigrants’ rights actually pass at
a higher rate.
To organize and understand the legislation introduced by state
lawmakers across the United States, the Migration Policy Institute
(MPI) and the New York University School of Law (NYU) today launched
online searchable database of all 1,059 immigration bills
introduced in 2007. In the coming months, the database will add
all bills introduced since 2001 as well as this year’s
legislative activity. The database, which includes a synopsis
of each bill, is accompanied by the report Regulating
Immigration at the State Level: Highlights from the Database
of 2007 State Immigration Legislation and the Methodology.
Among the report’s findings: Just 16 percent (167) of
the 1,059 bills proposed in 2007 were enacted into law, with
the rest either rejected, expired or still pending.
Bills were classified by state, geographic region, subject area
and bill status, allowing users to find out, for example, the
status of enforcement initiatives introduced in their state,
compare all bills across the United States regulating employment,
or evaluate the passage rate of bills affecting housing.
Separately, under a legislative typology developed by MPI and
NYU, bills were catalogued on the basis of whether they expand
immigrants’ rights, contract immigrants’ rights,
or regulate employment or law enforcement.
While bills designed to regulate employment or expand state
and local immigration enforcement were the most popular subjects
for legislation (accounting for 551 of the 1,059 bills), MPI’s
analysis found that bills designed to expand immigrants’ rights
had the highest enactment rate of any immigration legislation,
at 19 percent. Measures contracting immigrants’ rights
or relating to enforcement each had an 11 percent enactment rate,
while those regulating employment had a 10 percent passage rate.
“While much public and media attention is focused on states’ efforts
to increase immigration law enforcement or deter the hiring of
illegal immigrants, that’s only one part of the story,’’ said
Muzaffar Chishti, Director of MPI’s office at NYU Law School. “In
fact, bills that aim to integrate immigrants into the broader
society or protect them were more likely in 2007 to become law.”
Said Cristina Rodriguez, an MPI non-resident fellow and NYU
School of Law associate law professor: “The trend is clear:
At a time when Washington has been resoundingly silent on immigration
policy, states have become increasingly active on the legislative
front and are introducing bills that touch on everything from
law enforcement to housing, health care and immigrant integration
policies. This database offers an important window on the contours
of the debate taking place in state legislatures across the nation.”
A search of the database, which also classifies legislation
by subject area such as housing, education, health care and public
- In states with recent immigrant populations that are growing
rapidly, such as South Carolina and Nevada, legislation that
would contract immigrants’ rights proved the most popular
- In traditional immigrant-receiving states such as California,
Texas and New York, measures designed to expand immigrant rights
were the most popular type of legislation in 2007.
- The top three states to propose immigration measures were
Texas (104 bills), New York (98) and Tennessee (83). But the
three states that saw the most immigration bills signed into
law were Hawaii (15), Texas (11) and Arizona (9).
“It’s interesting that politicians in traditional
immigrant-receiving states – those that account for two-thirds
of the foreign-born population in the United States – were
more interested in introducing bills that dealt with immigrant
integration issues than other types of measures,” said
MPI Policy Analyst Laureen Laglagaron.
The database, which is a project of MPI’s National Center
on Immigrant Integration Policy, can be accessed online at: www.migrationpolicy.org/datahub/statelaws.php
The 2007 report and detailed methodology can be accessed online
The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan,
non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of
the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development
and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local,
national and international levels.