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Frustrated states test boundaries of immigration laws

Trying to control illegal immigration in the absence of federal action, states have considered numerous approaches and five have passed sweeping laws, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that states can't undermine federal laws.
by Chris Casteel Published: June 30, 2012

Congress needs to act

Many of those involved in the issue, including governors in states with tough anti-immigration laws, said after the ruling that it was even more important for Congress to address the problem.

President Barack Obama agreed, saying “What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system — it's part of the problem.”


Here are summaries, provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures, of some of the state laws passed in the wake of the Arizona law:

Alabama: Prohibits the entry, presence, and involvement in economic activity of unauthorized immigrants, employment, voting and registration activities, and access to public benefits. Public contractors and subcontractors are required to use E-Verify. The law bans illegal immigrants from attending college or receiving any state scholarships, grants, or financial aid. It is unlawful for a person to transport an immigrant; conceal, harbor or shield an immigrant; or harbor an immigrant unlawfully present by entering into a rental agreement if the person knows or recklessly disregards the fact the immigrant is unlawfully present.

Georgia: Prohibits and provides penalties for the entry, presence, and involvement in economic activity of unauthorized immigrants; employment; voting and registration activities; and access to public benefits. It requires E-Verify for public and certain private employers, verification of lawful presence for rental agreements.

Indiana: A law enforcement officer can arrest immigrants with removal orders or if the officer has probable cause to believe the person has been indicted or convicted of one or more aggravated felonies. Law enforcement officers can impound motor vehicles for violations of crimes related to moving, transporting, concealing, harboring, or shielding illegal immigrants. The law establishes state crimes for false ID, identity fraud, transport, and harboring. State agencies, localities and public contractors are required to use E-Verify.

South Carolina: Police can verify legal status during a lawful stop. The law creates an Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit within the Department of Public Safety to enforce immigration laws. All public contractors and subcontractors are required to use E-Verify. Transporting or harboring an illegal immigrant in any place, including a building or a means of transportation, is a felony. Verification is required for public benefits.

Utah: The law requires that an officer verify the immigration status of a person arrested for a felony or a class A misdemeanor and a person booked for class B or C misdemeanors. It requires verification of immigration status regarding application for public services or benefits provided by a state or local governmental agency or subcontractor, except as exempted by federal law.