Coming to America

Report Author: 
Ann Morse
Original Date of Publication: 
December, 2017

Despite the prominence of immigration in the national political discourse, there has been little federal legislative action on immigration, and Americans know surprisingly little about immigrants and the U.S. immigration system. “Coming to America,” published by the National Conference of State Legislatures utilizes data from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the National Bureau of Economic Research to offer basic facts on immigration to the U.S; show how immigrants contribute to economic growth and, over time, integrate into social and civic life; and describe state initiatives to address immigration issues. For example, after 20 years in the U.S., refugees who arrived as adults each paid about $21,000 more in taxes than they received in benefits. Despite the lack of progress at the federal level, states have considered an average of 1,300 bills and resolutions every year since the early 2000s ranging from budget-related measures to laws requiring employers to use the E-verify system to prove that new hires are authorized to work in the U.S. The article highlights states’ actions in response to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and general immigration enforcement and integration challenges. For instance, all states issued drivers’ licenses to DACA recipients, and some states offered in-state tuition and granted professional licenses to unauthorized immigrants. Even though immigration reform requires a national response, the author concludes that states’ experiences are instructive in developing policy solutions for achieving immigrant integration and more prosperous communities. (Jasmina Popaja for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)

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Report File: 

Morse, A. (2017, December). Coming to America. State Legislatures Magazine, 4.

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