Activism on Immigration by U.S. States Is Back, with New Tactics and Different Targets

Muzaffar Chishti and Julia Gelatt
Date of Publication: 
June, 2023
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

This paper examines the recent surge in state activism on immigration-related matters, whether to tighten enforcement in red-leaning states or to facilitate immigrant integration in blue-leaning states. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has led the charge for restrictive state immigration policy, making the transport of unauthorized migrants into Florida a felony and making the hiring of unauthorized immigrants illegal, among other actions. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has designated drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations; he has also attempted to militarize the border, and created a border security intelligence-sharing compact with other states. In contrast to Texas and Florida, states like Minnesota and Utah have provided more robust protections to unauthorized immigrants and those with quasi-legal status such as TPS recipients by providing access to driver’s licenses, public benefits, professional certifications, and college tuition assistance. The authors of the paper are not certain what the future may bring in terms of state activism. As it seems to be a function of the political cycle, it may abate or intensify depending on political factors, as well as judicial decisions and actions by the federal government.

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Chishti, M., & Gelatt, J. (2023). Activism on Immigration by U.S. States Is Back, with New Tactics and Different Targets. Migration Policy Institute.