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Recent State Actions Involving Immigration

GavelIt is predicted that 2017 will bring a whirlwind of change for immigration laws and policies in the United States.  While any changes at the federal level will not materialize until after January 20, there are several ongoing and new immigration-related issues currently at the state level.

Iowa to Examine Immigrant-Friendly Policies

For example, in the state of Iowa, Iowa City councilmen and women have come to an agreement that the city does not have any immigration-related issues.  However, in anticipation of changes implemented by the new administration, the council has agreed to put forth ideas and eventually policies as a way to make sure Iowa City remains open and welcoming to foreign nationals.  A few council members have gone so far as to open discussions about designating Iowa City as a “sanctuary city” or one that does not assist federal enforcement officers with their efforts to enforce immigration laws.  Not all of the council members support this idea, but the general consensus has been that the city’s police department should not be used by federal officials to enforce immigration laws.  The council has pledged to draft a resolution outlining its official policy in the coming months.

Georgia’s State Court Offers Tremendous Benefit to Undocumented Students

The Georgia State Court just ruled that undocumented foreign national students who are the recipients of President Obama’s DACA program may qualify to pay in-state tuition this year.  The President’s DACA program provided eligible foreign nationals with temporary employment authorization and temporary suspension of any deportation proceedings that had been initiated for the foreign nationals.  The case arose after 10 DACA students sued the Fulton County Superior Court in order to qualify for in-state tuition.  By way of background, out-of-state tuition rates to attend Georgia schools are approximately three times the in-state tuition rates.

A state law dating back to 2008 required non-U.S. citizens to be legally residing in Georgia in order to qualify for in-state tuition rates.  The plaintiffs provided the court with proof that according to federal records, foreign nationals with DACA protection are considered to be lawfully present in the U.S. and thus in the state of Georgia.  Judge Gail Tusan was persuaded by the argument and ordered that the officials for the University System of Georgia apply the federal definition of lawful presence to the students, including those who were granted DACA protections.

Controversial Texas Law Goes to Court

On the other side of the spectrum lies Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott’s law from 2015 is making its way through the court system.  The law in question concerns many aspects of border security and includes a provision that criminalizes the act of  “encouraging or inducing a person to enter or remain in this country in violation of federal law by concealing, harboring, or shielding that person from detection.”

The law was challenged by David Cruz and Valentin Reyes, two Texan landlords who do not ask that prospective tenants disclose their immigration status. Mr. Cruz and Mr. Reyes argue that the bill’s provisions would make them guilty of potentially renting properties to undocumented foreign nationals.  They are predicted to win the case on their argument that the law is preempted by the Supremacy Clause, which requires immigration issues to be regulated only by the federal government.

Additional Blog Posts:

The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012

Obama Signs Immigration Policy Memo, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012

Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012