States take action on immigration bills

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 2 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

People gather at the Capitol to witness Gov. John Kitzhaber signing Senate Bill 833 during a May Day Rally on the Capitol steps, in Salem, Ore., on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. As a throng of supporters cheered, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill Wednesday that will let immigrants living in Oregon without legal permission obtain driver's licenses.

Statesman Journal, Timothy J. Gonzalez, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

State legislatures across the nation are taking up immigration laws, and many proposals were introduced or signed in conjunction with May Day immigrants' rights rallies. The changes create a state-by-state patchwork, but the overall effect has emboldened activists who want more freedoms for the 11 million people in the U.S. without legal permission.

— Alabama: In March, officials said the state would allow young immigrants in the country illegally to obtain driver's licenses under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

— Arkansas: A proposal that would have allowed state colleges and universities to extend in-state tuition rates to some immigrants who came to the country as children illegally failed to pass this session.

— Arizona: A proposal by minority Democrats to force the state to issue driver's licenses to young immigrants who have gotten work permits under the deferred action program failed to pass the House.

Arizona's governor issued an executive order barring the state from issuing licenses to those who qualify for the federal program. Immigrants' rights groups have sued in federal court to get the order overturned.

— California: A pending measure would allow driver's licenses to be issued to immigrants living in the state illegally if they can prove they pay taxes.

A new state law went into effect in January allowing those who came to the U.S. as children and are a part of the federal deferred action program to obtain driver's licenses.

— Colorado: In April, lawmakers repealed a strict immigration policy passed in 2006 that requires sheriffs and police to notify federal authorities when they arrest someone suspected of living illegally in the U.S. Colorado was the first state to pass such a law, and it is the first state to repeal it.

The state enacted a law in April allowing students who graduated from Colorado high schools, but who don't have legal status in the U.S., to be eligible for in-state tuition.

Colorado Democrats are pushing a proposal that would allow driver's licenses for immigrants in the country illegally. The bill passed the Senate, and is making its way through the House.

— Connecticut: Lawmakers introduced a proposal to allow immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain driver's licenses. The governor and other key lawmakers have endorsed the legislation.

— Florida: Lawmakers are considering a bill that would offer in-state tuition rates to the children of immigrants in the country without permission. The House passed the bill, but it's stalled in the Senate. Similar legislative efforts failed in 2005 and 2012.

— Georgia: Legislators approved a measure to expand a strict immigration law, adding driver's licenses, public housing and retirement benefits to a list of public benefits that people in the country illegally are not eligible for.

— Illinois: In January, Illinois became the fourth state to grant driver's licenses to immigrants living in the country without proof of documentation. It joined Washington state, New Mexico and Utah in issuing driver's licenses or restricted permits to people living in the country illegally.

— Iowa: In January, Iowa officials reversed a decision not to issue driver licenses to young immigrants allowed to remain in the county under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

— Kansas: Lawmakers failed to pass a measure that would have repealed in-state tuition for students living in the state without legal residency.

— Maryland: In March, Maryland became the fifth state to pass a bill that would allow some applicants to obtain a driver's license without proof of lawful immigration status.

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