New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

As Immigration Reform Lingers, States Pass Their Own Laws for Enforcement

Author: NY attorney Alena Shautsova

U.S. Immigration reform remains a hot topic overdue for national reform. While U.S. Congress appears deadlocked and immigration reform stalls, a variety of states, including Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, have passed their own strict state laws to enforce already existing federal immigration laws. As a result of the new legislation, some records indicate that thousands of undocumented immigrants have left Alabama. Yet, Alabama religious leaders have taken to the courts, filing lawsuits against the state for its new immigration law. A New York Times article reported at least four prominent leaders of Christian denominations called the immigration act a criminalization of acts of Christian compassion.

NY bill for its own DREAM Act

The fact is, some state legislatures appear more immigrant friendly than others. On March 11, 2011, New York State Senator, Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) introduced the New York DREAM Act (S.4179), co-sponsored by State Senator Dan Squadron (D-Brooklyn). The bill proposed allowing benefits for undocumented minors and young adults who arrived in the United States prior to age 16 and who were under the age of 35 with a two year residency in New York and who had obtained a GED or high school diploma or other equivalent. The bill allowed them access to the following:

  • Driver's licenses
  • Financial aid access for higher education
  • Work authorization
  • Health care access for minors

This is New York's version of the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) that failed to pass the Senate in 2010.

Another state with a more favorable immigration view

Kansas also appears to be working on legislation that would create legal avenues for undocumented immigrants to work legally and fulfill the state's agricultural employment need.

If you have questions about immigration and reside in New York, it is best to consult a skilled New York immigration lawyer. Understanding federal immigration laws is already complicated, and now additionally, states are passing immigration laws to fill the void of much needed immigration reform, making matters even more complex.

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