A Guide for State & Local Policymakers and Advocates

Guide Cover

(Guide Revised 1/15/09)

Fed by a daily drumbeat of inflammatory rhetoric on cable television and talk radio, public frustration with our broken immigration system and federal inaction is now hyper-charged. It has transformed immigration policy from an inside-the-beltway debate into a political flashpoint jolting state houses and town halls across the country.

State and local legislators feeling heat from angry constituents have introduced a dizzying array of bills and ordinances. At their best, these measures are a legitimate expression of local frustration targeting specific policy concerns resulting from an influx of migrants; at worst, they are cheap political haymakers that divide communities and wreak havoc on local economies.

In response, AILA has developed a state and local resource guide to provide policymakers and advocates a roadmap to use as they steer through the policy minefields created by this trend. Organized around the following seven hot-button issues, the guide is designed to provide a basic orientation to the issues and an introduction to critical resources:

  • Restricting immigrants' access to public benefits and services
  • Mandating verification of employment eligibility
  • Restricting congregations of day laborers
  • Establishing "English-only" policies
  • Imposing restrictive housing policies
  • Requiring state and local police to serve as immigration agents
  • Restricting immigrants' access to driver's licenses

Each of these issue sections contains: (1) a background summary that distills the central arguments, problems, and state of play; (2) a factual rebuttal of the most commonly propounded myths; (3) a synthesis of current legislative activity around the country; (4) a description of relevant litigation; and (5) a broad compilation of additional resources from individuals and organizations with issue expertise.

Downloading and Using the Electronic Resource Guide

Navigating the Immigration Debate-A Guide for State & Local Policymakers and Advocates is intended to serve as a launching point for individuals concerned about immigration-related policy developments at the state and local level. It was designed as an electronic resource in order to give readers the freedom to explore the issue beyond the physical confines of this guide.

Throughout each chapter we have supplemented the text with hyperlinks that connect readers directly to a wide array of immigrant advocacy websites, and copies of their resources; we hope that these links encourage readers to tap into the expertise of a growing network of national and local organizations committed to sustainable immigration solutions, as well as providing a clear roadmap of how to do so.

Download a copy of AILA's electronic resource guide, Navigating the Immigration Debate-A Guide for State & Local Policymakers and Advocates.

Contacting AILA National

AILA Advocacy staff would appreciate the opportunity to provide further information or answer questions about the guide. For information on legislation or policy analysis, please contact the Advocacy Department at advocacy@aila.org.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 08021975.