States Continue to Address Immigration Issues

Immigration has been thrust into the federal and state spotlight following recent events. The backlog of immigration requests, the wait for a visa, and illegal immigration are issues government officials on all sides of the debate often address. Historically, the federal government has involved state and local officials in the enforcement of immigration laws, more so when public opposition to immigration grows. In 2018, the nation is still faced with solving a perplexing issue that has no easy solution.

Many municipalities within states have municipalities that have entered into a voluntary 287(g) agreement within their borders. The agreement, which became law under the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1996, allows their agents to investigate the immigration status of individuals in their jurisdiction; to enforce immigration laws under the supervision of federal authorities. Twenty states have municipalities with 287 (g) agreements within their borders. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, oversees the agreements and training of officers.

Another ICE program called Secure Communities shares fingerprints of individuals who are arrested or booked into custody by state and local agencies with the FBI to check for a criminal record. The FBI shares the prints with the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, which enables the department to check prints against its immigration databases.

Cities and states are at the forefront of the immigration debate. Many states have sought action to limit municipalities’ ability to declare themselves a sanctuary and others have embraced the designation. The Trump administration signed an executive order in 2017 that restricted federal funds from being allocated to sanctuary cities. The order was blocked in numerous courts that said cities are entitled to federal funding despite the order.

Sanctuary States Map

In 2017, Texas enacted SB 4. The bill prohibits localities, higher education institutions, police departments, municipal or county attorneys from adopting policies that prohibit enforcement of state and federal immigration laws. The law further requires law enforcement to comply with federal detainer requests. Georgia also enacted a bill that prohibited post-secondary institutions from adopting sanctuary policies; Indiana added secondary educational institutions to its law regarding limiting communication about immigration status with federal law enforcement.

In Oregon, a ballot measure regarding the repeal of the state’s sanctuary status was approved to be added to the November ballot. The measure simply states “Be It Enacted by the people of the state of Oregon: Section 1 of ORS 181A.820 is repealed.”

In state government, officials of all three branches of government will continue to see an influx of immigration issues within their borders.

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