Immigrants’ Rights Gain Ground in the States

Original post from the National Immigration Law Center.

While the U.S. president took multiple actions during the past two years to restrict immigration and make life more difficult for immigrants in the United States, states overwhelmingly rejected harsh measures and instead advanced policies that improve the lives of immigrants in their communities across the country. Following the 2018 elections, and in response to the administration’s escalating threats, immigrants’ rights organizing advanced substantially in the states.

Advocates not only defeated most anti-immigrant proposals and secured policies limiting state and local entanglement in immigration enforcement, but they gained significant ground in campaigns to expand access to higher education, professional licenses, driver’s licenses, health care, and legal representation for immigrants. Collectively, advocates moved states to adopt major criminal justice reforms and measures to protect the privacy of both citizens and non citizens.

This report highlights some of the victories won by immigrants’ rights advocates, organizers, and allies in the states during the past two years.

REPORT CONTENTS

NOTE FROM NILC’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

LEADING THE WAY

  • Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
  • New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice
  • Somos un Pueblo Unido (New Mexico)
  • Causa (Oregon)
  • Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition
  • Voces de la Frontera (Wisconsin)

STATES LIMIT THEIR ROLE IN IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT

  • Legislatures rejected most anti-sanctuary and immigration enforcement measures
  • Voters also rejected immigration enforcement proposals
  • Anti-sanctuary laws were enacted in a few states
  • States and localities limited entanglement & strengthened privacy
  • Administrative policies also limited entanglement

IMMIGRANT-INCLUSIVE CAMPAIGNS ADVANCED SIGNIFICANTLY

  • States and localities invest in access to counsel
  • States facilitate access to lawful immigration status
  • Campaigns to expand access to driver’s licenses for immigrants escalate in 2019
  • States across the political spectrum improve access to higher education for immigrant youth
    • Improved access to in-state tuition
    • Expanded access to state financial aid
    • Scholarships, institutional aid, and other inclusive education policies
    • Education restrictions
  • States invest in access to health care coverage and address barriers to care
    • Covering immigrant children and pregnant women
    • Covering immigrant youth and COFA migrants
    • Moving toward more universal coverage

Click here to download the report.