After years of inaction by Congress to undertake immigration reform, many states began to take matters into their own hands. Arizona was the first state to adopt immigration laws that would affect immigrants, including criminalizing being present in Arizona without proper authorization to be in the U.S. (under federal law, it is not a crime to simply remain in the U.S. without authorization), mandating that immigrants were to carry their immigration documents with them, and requiring law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the country without authorization.
In summer 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down many provisions of the Arizona law and that has curbed the proliferation of similar laws. Critics of restrictive laws like Arizona state that the law could lead to racial profiling. The 219th General Assembly agreed with this potential and adopted a policy calling for the denomination to refrain from holding national meetings in states where some Presbyterians may encounter heightened scrutiny based on their physical characteristics. The 220th General Assembly affirmed this action and reiterated that immigration reform is the responsibility of the federal government.
In order to assist planning coordinators with ensuring they avoid scheduling national meetings in states like Arizona, the Office of Immigration Issues has developed a resource to track such legislation.
The Office of Immigration Issues has created a State Immigration Legislation Tool Kit. The Tool Kit provides congregations and communities with a brief summary of state immigration laws, Scripture references for reflection, and ideas for providing direct services in partnership with immigrant communities.
In addition to the Supreme Court determining that some aspects of state immigration laws are invalid due to the preemption of federal immigration laws, review this resource to discover what other implications these types of laws could have: Q&A Guide to State Immigration Laws by the Immigration Policy Center.
A coalition of organizations has developed a tool to help individuals and communities oppose restrictive immigration laws. View this resource, Not in Our State.
Track State Legislation
The 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) adopted a resolution calling for Presbyterians to refrain from holding meetings in states with immigration laws similar to Arizona’s SB1070. This resolution also directed the Office of Immigration Issues to track state legislation and make it available as a resource for Presbyterians across the country.
A database containing links to the immigration legislation being considered by state legislatures can be accessed here. The spreadsheet contains the name of proposed legislation, links to the text of the bill, its legislative history, and a recent article. Information is updated periodically. If new information needs to be added to the spreadsheet, please contact Teresa Waggener with your suggestions and corrections. When using this information for planning events and meetings, please read the DISCLAIMER below.
DISCLAIMER While information is updated periodically, the status of bills can change quickly and without warning. Please use the links to get the most up-to-date information on bill status from each state’s congressional website. If you’re considering scheduling or canceling an event to honor the resolution, please contact Teresa Waggener for the most up-to-date and accurate information. firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-728-7228. Please do not rely only on the information contained in the spreadsheet to make your decision, seek the counsel of the Office of Immigration Issues and your partners to make a decision that is appropriate for your purposes.
Green: the state has few restrictions/policies relating to immigrants
Yellow: immigration legislation, which may conflict with the 2010 General Assembly resolution has been introduced in one or both chambers of the state’s legislature
Orange: a bill, which may conflict with the 2010 General Assembly resolution, has passed one chamber of the state’s legislature
Brown: immigration legislation has been enacted, which while not “similar to Arizona,” may result in some people not feeling welcome in the state
Red: immigration legislation “similar to Arizona” has been passed in both chambers and/or signed into law by the governor