States Considered More than 500 Immigration Bills in 2013

While the Gang of Eight and federal legislation dominated the immigration news in 2013, a new report from FAIR finds that more than 500 immigration-related bills were introduced in state legislatures across the country. These bills encompassed issues such as extending in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens and implementing state-wide anti-detainer policies that impede federal enforcement of immigration laws.

The report2013: Trends in State Immigration-related Legislation, which summarizes the trends in state immigration-related bills, notes that there was a dramatic increase in the number of bills introduced this year compared to 2012:

2013 saw a significant spike in the introduction of state immigration-related legislation. This spike can be attributed to two main factors. First, pushed by local amnesty advocates, pro-illegal immigration legislators introduced numerous bills and resolutions to complement the push for amnesty from the White House and the United States Senate.

Second, the introduction of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 inspired a host of bills as states grappled with the decision of whether to extend or restrict benefits to this new class of persons not recognized under federal law….As of August 31, 2013, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) estimated the total number of illegal aliens approved for DACA at around 600,000, while an estimated 1 million additional illegal aliens are still eligible.  USCIS has approved 97 percent of all applicants to the DACA program.

Anti-Detainer Policies

This year, Connecticut and California passed the first state-wide anti-detainer policies in the country, which:

…impede federal enforcement of immigration law by restricting state and local law enforcement agencies from complying with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests, except under limited circumstances. An ICE detainer request advises jails to hold aliens for no more than an additional 48 hours to allow ICE agents time to make arrangements for the transfer of the alien into federal custody for the purpose of removing the alien.

Similar legislation was considered in other states in 2013:

  • Three states introduced but defeated similar legislation: Florida, Texas and Washington.
  • Three states have pending legislation: Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.
  • Montana’s Legislature passed a bill that prohibited anti-detainer policies state-wide, but Governor Steve Bullock (D) vetoed the bill.

For additional information, see FAIR’s report on Sanctuary Policies Across the U.S.

Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Aliens

Nearly half of the state legislatures in the country considered the issue of driver’s licenses or privilege cards for illegal aliens in 2013:

  • Eight states granted driver’s licenses or driver privilege cards to illegal aliens: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.
  • Ten states defeated similar legislation: Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Texas.
  • Three states have pending legislation: Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.

In-state Tuition for Illegal Aliens

The issue of in-state tuition for illegal aliens made national headlines in New Jersey days before Christmas when Gov. Chris Christie signed S2479, which made illegal aliens eligible for taxpayer-subsidized tuition rates at New Jersey’s public universities. Among other states taking up this issue:

  • Five states granted or expanded eligibility to in-state tuition to illegal aliens at state-affiliated institutions of higher education: California, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon and New Jersey.
  • Twelve states defeated similar legislation: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.
  • Three states have pending legislation: Michigan, Massachusetts and New York.

Additionally, Board of Regents in Hawaii and Michigan,* amended their policies to allow in-state tuition for illegal aliens. In Ohio, the Board of Regents recently extended in-state tuition to DACA recipients, but legislators quickly introduced legislation to reverse that decision by restricting in-state tuition to United States citizens and nationals.

* Michigan’s policy is limited to the University of Michigan and its satellite campuses.

Click here to read the report or see it embedded below.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar
    Diana Reichardt on

    If they are having such difficulty in putting new laws on the books in regards to immigration, I say keep the ones that are now effective and ENFORCE them! Needless to say, I am not for amnesty. I see no reason why the folks from Mexico should get special treatment. If they are serious about being here they can abide by the rules of this country and pay taxes like everyone else. They really just want to work here, send their money home and take advantage of the perks they can get, food assistance, free medical and anything else we care to give, not pay for anything. I am sorry but I do feel it is time for a change. Do what we should have bee doing, enforcing our laws as they stand.

  2. avatar

    There Was a Time When We Thought States Would Stop Amnesty

    But foreign corporate money can buy any politician off it appears…..regardless of what the majority voter wants.

  3. avatar

    How ironic that California passed a “anti retainer” bill, refusing to cooperate with federal authorities. When the feds sued Arizona for passing strict enforcement laws, California joined the suit. One of their stated reasons for doing so was that illegals would be driven to other states with less strict laws. In other words, states like CALIFORNIA.