Immigration News Blog

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Chart Shows Past legislative Proposals for Immigration Reform

New Chart Shows Past legislative Proposals for Immigration Reform
The National Employment Law Project’s Immigrant Worker Justice Project has developed a chart summarizing the terms of past legislative proposals for immigration reform, with particular attention to provisions affecting immigrant workers. We will also update the chart as legislative developments progress. We hope that this resource is of use to you. 

The chart is a work in progress, so if you have any suggestions or edits, please contact


US Census: America's Foreign Born In The Last 50 Years

US Census:
 America's Foreign Born In The Last 50 Years [Infographic] [7 February 2013]

During the last 50 years, the foreign-born population of the United States has undergone dramatic changes in size, origins, and geographic distribution. This population represented about 1 in 20 residents in 1960, mostly from countries in Europe who settled in the Northeast and Midwest. Today’s foreign-born population makes up about one in eight U.S. residents, mostly immigrants from Latin America and Asia who have settled in the West and South. The Decennial Census and the annual American Community Survey allow us to trace the changes in the foreign-born population over time.

Tip Sheet 7 February 2013
Census Bureau's "How Do We Know?" Series Features New Infographic on America's Foreign-Born Population

During the last 50 years, the foreign-born population of the United States has undergone dramatic changes in size, origins and geographic distribution. How do we know about America's foreign-born? This new infographic provides a statistical snapshot of our foreign-born population from the American Community Survey and the decennial censuses.


A Nation of Immigrants

A Nation of Immigrants | Pew Hispanic Center

A Portrait of the 40 Million, Including 11 Million Unauthorized

The nation's immigrant population reached a record 40.4 million in 2011, including an estimated 11.1 million who are unauthorized, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

The overall number of immigrants in the U.S. continues to grow steadily; it is up by more than 9 million since 2000. By contrast, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. grew for decades before peaking at 12 million in 2007. It was 11.1 million as of 2011, the last year for which an estimate is available.

The 40.4 million total, which includes legal as well as unauthorized immigrants, made up 13% of the total U.S. population in 2011. While the 40.4 million is a record, immigrants' share of the total population is below the U.S. peak of just under 15% during the period from 1890 to 1920 - a high-immigration era dominated by arrivals from Europe. The modern wave, which began with the passage of border-opening legislation in 1965, has been led by arrivals from Latin America (about 50%) and Asia (27%).

Besides this new analysis of the nation's immigrant population, the Pew Hispanic Center also is publishing today a statistical portrait of the nation's foreign-born population. It is based on the Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey and features detailed characteristics of the U.S. foreign-born population at the national level, as well as state population totals. Topics covered include age, nativity, citizenship, origin, language proficiency, living arrangements, marital status, fertility, schooling, health insurance coverage, earnings, poverty and employment.

The Pew Research Center also has published a number of reports on the size and characteristics of the nation's unauthorized immigrant population and on the public's attitudes towards immigrants and immigration policy.


2012 Immigration-Related Laws and Resolutions in the States (Jan. 1–Dec. 31, 2012

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

2012 Immigration-Related Laws and Resolutions in the States (Jan. 1–Dec. 31, 2012) [30 January 2013]

The number of immigration-related bills introduced and passed at the state level in 2012 dipped in comparison with the last five years, yet remains high overall. There are several explanations for the dip, including the May 2012 Supreme Court Arizona v. United States ruling in which only the lawful stop provision was upheld, and the fact that four state legislatures did not meet in 2012, including Montana, North Dakota, Nevada and Texas.

“States seemed to put the brakes on immigration bills early in 2012, pending budget and redistricting debates, and most important, the review of Arizona’s immigration law by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Ann Morse, director of the NCSL Immigrant Policy Project. “By the end of 2012, however, the number of laws was down by only 13 percent, meaning that states continue to engage on immigration issues in budgets, law enforcement, employment, licensing and benefits.” 

In 2012, state legislators in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico introduced 983 bills and resolutions related to immigration. This marks a decline of 39 percent compared with 2011, during which 1,606 bills were introduced. The decrease in the number of enacted bills and resolutions was less pronounced: 267 in 2012 compared with 306 in 2011, a decline of just 13 percent.

Of the bills and resolutions enacted, nearly a quarter were budget related, appropriating funds for federal programs such as English language acquisition, naturalization and refugee resettlement.

Law enforcement legislation accounted for 17 percent of the total. Four states—Kansas, Louisiana, Maine and Utah—enacted laws that specify permissible documents for registering and maintaining records on sex offenders, including travel and immigration documents.

Employment, identification/driver’s license and public benefits comprised 9 percent of all 2012 immigration laws. Massachusetts, for example, prohibited the registration of a motor vehicle or trailer unless the person holds a license, specified identification card, Social Security number or proof of legal presence.

Education and health care each accounted for eight percent of the total. In New Hampshire, legislation was enacted requiring every student receiving in-state tuition to sign an affidavit of legal residence beginning in 2013. Nebraska restored prenatal care and pregnancy-related services for immigrant mothers through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Human trafficking laws made up 6 percent of the total. A law passed in South Carolina makes it a crime to destroy, withhold or confiscate any type of identification document including a driver’s license, passport or immigration document in the attempt to detain a victim.

Of the 111 immigration-related resolutions passed in 2012, 12 urged the U.S. Congress and president to take action on immigration, trade, tourism and border security.


Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Enforcement: Legal Issues

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Enforcement: Legal Issues
Kate M. Manuel, Legislative Attorney
Todd Garvey,Legislative Attorney
January 17, 2013
[full-text, 30 pages]

The term prosecutorial discretion is commonly used to describe the wide latitude that prosecutors have in determining when, whom, how, and even whether to prosecute apparent violations of the law. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and, later, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its components have historically described themselves as exercising prosecutorial discretion in immigration enforcement. Some commentators have recently challenged this characterization on the grounds that DHS enforces primarily civil violations, and some of its components cannot be said to engage in “law enforcement,” as that term is conventionally understood. However, even agencies that do not prosecute or engage in law enforcement have been recognized as having discretion (sometimes referred to as enforcement discretion) in determining whether to enforce particular violations.

Federal regulation of immigration is commonly said to arise from various powers enumerated in the Constitution (e.g., naturalization, commerce), as well as the federal government’s inherent power to control and conduct foreign relations. Some, although not all, of these powers belong exclusively to Congress, and courts have sometimes described Congress as having “plenary power” over immigration. However, few courts or commentators have addressed the separation of powers between Congress and the President in the field of immigration, and the executive has sometimes been said to share plenary power over immigration with Congress as one of the “political branches.” Moreover, the authority to exercise prosecutorial or enforcement discretion has traditionally been understood to arise from the Constitution, not from any congressional delegation of power.


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