NumbersUSA members were busy in 2011 pursuing state enforcement legislation and fighting pro-illegal alien bills. Thanks to their efforts, important enforcement bills passed in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina and Virginia. Members also stopped pro-illegal alien bills in Colorado, Nebraska and Oregon. We thought you’d appreciate learning about some of their hard-fought battles.
In addition to the activism described below, NumbersUSA members in all states without a private-sector E-Verify law faxed their state legislators in January to ask for legislation. Plus after Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order requiring state agencies and contractors to use E-Verify, members in states without a related requirement faxed their governor asking for a similar executive order. This month, members also began faxing state legislators to promote enforcement legislation in 2012.
State Activism in 2011
Alabama: Members convinced legislators to pass, and the governor to sign, a bill (HB 56) that: requires businesses and state and local governments to use E-Verify; requires state and local governments to use the SAVE system to verify public-benefits eligibility; requires police, after a lawful stop and when practicable, to check a person’s immigration status if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is illegally present; bans illegal aliens from state universities and colleges; and prohibits sanctuary policies.
Arizona: Members called and faxed state legislators to urge passage of legislation (SB 1611) that would have: established penalties for non-compliance with E-Verify requirements; increased penalties for sanctuary policies; created a crime for operating a vehicle while unlawfully present; and required parents enrolling their kids in school to show a birth certificate or other documents. The legislation failed in the Senate.
California: Members opposed efforts to enact AB 131, which allows illegal aliens to apply for financial aid – including grants and scholarships – at local community colleges and the University of California and California State University systems. When the measure cleared the legislature, members called and faxed Gov. Jerry Brown asking for a veto. After Brown signed AB 131 into law, members helped gather signatures for a referendum which, if successful, would allow voters to decide whether it should remain law. Members also fought efforts to enact AB 1236, which invalidates local California ordinances that require certain employers to use E-Verify. Unfortunately, the legislature cleared that measure as well and Brown endorsed it.
Colorado: Members convinced the House to vote down a Senate-passed bill (SB11-126) that would have given illegal aliens access to in-state college tuition rates. Members called and faxed legislators in support of a resolution (SCR 4) that would have allowed voters to decide whether all employers should be required to use E-Verify. Finally, members called and faxed in support of bills that would have required all private employers to use E-Verify (SB11-129) and established an illegal-presence law patterned after Arizona’s (SB11-054). The three enforcement measures were not successful.
Connecticut: Members called, faxed and testified in opposition to legislation (HB 6390) to give illegal aliens access to in-state tuition rates. The legislation passed and was signed into law.
Florida: After Gov. Rick Scott adopted an executive order requiring state agencies and contractors to use E-Verify, members called and faxed legislators in favor of extending E-Verify to all employers. A weak Senate bill (SB 2040), which Senators passed on the last day of session, was not taken up in the House. Representatives decided the bill could not be reconciled with their strong E-Verify bill (HB 7089) at that late date.
Georgia: Members convinced legislators to pass, and the governor to sign, HB 87 which: phases in a requirement for all businesses with 11+ employees to use E-Verify; penalizes government agencies that fail to use E-Verify or check for public-benefits eligibility; imposes a stiff penalty for using fake identification to get a job; and allows police, during any investigation of a criminal suspect and when an officer has probable cause to believe that a suspect has committed a criminal offense, to verify a suspect's immigration status.
Illinois: Members called and faxed legislators in opposition to SB 2185, which creates a state-based, privately-funded scholarship fund for illegal aliens. The legislation passed and was signed into law.
Indiana: Members convinced legislators to pass, and the governor to sign, SB 590 which requires state and local government contractors to use E-Verify, creates a tax penalty for businesses that don't use E-Verify, and requires use of the SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) program when distributing state welfare benefits.
Kentucky: Members called and faxed in support of HB 3, a mandatory E-Verify bill for state and local governments and their contractors, and SB 6, an Arizona-style illegal-presence bill. The bills passed their respective chambers but were blocked thereafter thanks to gubernatorial politics. David Williams, the Senate Republican Leader and a candidate for governor, passed legislation that a Democratically-controlled House refused to take up. The House bill was supported by Williams’ opponent, incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear.
Louisiana: At the beginning of year, members faxed legislators in support of E-Verify legislation for all employers. HB 342, which requires E-Verify for state/local contractors and subcontractors, was signed into law. Also enacted this year was HB 646, which requires employers to either use E-Verify or ask for certain ID documents. It is expected to spur E-Verify usage by giving users immunity from sanctions under the law.
Maine: Members thanked Governor Paul LePage for signing an executive order directing state agencies to cooperate with the federal government in immigration matters, and urged him to require E-Verify use in state agencies and use of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system for public-benefit applications.
Maryland: Members called and faxed in support of E-Verify bills (SB 390 and HB 760) and a resolution (HJ 10) calling on the state to enforce immigration laws. Members also called and faxed in opposition to SB 167, a bill to give illegal aliens access to in-state college tuition rates. When SB 167 was signed into law, members helped place a referendum on the 2012 ballot that will allow Maryland voters to decide whether it should remain law.
Michigan: Members called and faxed in support of bills that would require all state contractors and sub-contractors to use E-Verify (HB 4024) and require Temporary Worker Agencies to use E-Verify before they temps to a business (HB 4026). The measures did not succeed.
Mississippi: Members convinced the Senate to pass SB 2179, a bill to strengthen the state’s current E-Verify law and allow police to run immigration status checks on persons suspected to be in the U.S. illegally. The House, however, amended the bill with “poison-pill” language designed to kill it. The conference committee on the bill could not reconcile differences despite member activism.
Montana: Members persuaded the legislature to pass, and Gov. Brian Schweitzer to sign, HB 178, a bill that requires verification of lawful presence before issuance of a driver's license. Members also were instrumental in passing HB 492, a bill to prohibit local-government sanctuary policies, but were unable to stop the governor from vetoing the bill.
Nebraska: Members successfully opposed an open-borders resolution (LR 39) that would have put the state legislature on record as opposing state immigration enforcement and police immigration-status checks.
New Jersey: Members urged legislators to pass S 2722 and A 189, which would have encouraged employers to use E-Verify by creating a rebuttable presumption that users did not knowingly employ illegal aliens. The bills never received a hearing.
New Mexico: Members persuaded Representatives to pass HB 78, which would have stopped illegal aliens from obtaining driver's licenses. The Senate, however, gutted the bill and allowed it to die during regular session. The measure had the backing of Gov. Susana Martinez, who called up HB 78 during a subsequent special session. Legislators refused to take up the bill, however.
North Carolina: Members pressured legislators to improve a weak E-Verify bill (HB 36) by extending its mandate to all employers. Legislators extended the mandate to local governments but limited the bill’s private-sector requirements to businesses with 25+ employees and excluded most farmers. Gov. Bev Perdue signed the final measure. Members were unsuccessful in urging passage of benefits-eligibility legislation (SB 205) and a bill (SB 179) to create state penalties for failing to carry federal alien registration documents.
Oklahoma: Members persuaded the House to pass legislation (HB 1446) that would have banned state and local government “sanctuary” policies, prohibited illegal aliens from seeking work (including as an independent contractor), and made it a crime to pick up illegal-alien day laborers. The Senate, however, removed most of the bill’s enforcement provisions. Rather than give Senators a toothless victory, members urged defeat of the measure and won.
Oregon: Members convinced the House to reject a Senate-passed bill (SB 742) that would have given illegal aliens access to in-state college tuition rates. Members also succeeded in persuading the House to kill SB 845, a bill to give illegal aliens driving-privilege cards.
Rhode Island: While campaigning for governor, Lincoln Chafee pledged to rescind an executive order requiring state agencies and their vendors to use E-Verify. After his election, members tried to persuade him to break that promise but were unsuccessful. A bill to re-instate the executive order (HB 5043) and another to mandate all-employer E-Verify (SB 345) did not succeed despite member activism.
South Carolina: Early on, members called and faxed in support of S. 20, which: requires police, after a lawful stop, to check a person’s immigration status if an officer has reasonable suspicion that the person is illegal present and bans sanctuary policies. Before legislators could finalize the bill, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s E-Verify law. Members then convinced legislators to add provisions that conformed the state’s existing E-Verify law to the court’s ruling. S. 20 cleared both chambers and received the governor’s endorsement.
Tennessee: Members called and faxed in support of HB1378 (requires universal E-Verify), HB1379 (requires benefits-eligibility checks using the SAVE system), and HB1380 (illegal-presence measure). Concerns about the cost of implementing the latter two bills forced their withdrawal. Despite constant pressure from our members, the sponsor ended up weakening HB 1378 to accommodate concerns from the business community. The bill signed into law simply requires businesses to make a choice - use E-Verify or check the documents of new hires. This is no different than current law, so the legislation does little for Tennesseans.
Texas: Members were heartened by the introduction of over 20 enforcement bills this year but disappointed when House and Senate committee chairmen blocked most of them. Texas Gov. Rick Perry designated anti-sanctuary legislation a priority but even that encountered trouble. Members called and faxed to promote three anti-sanctuary bills (HB 12, HB 9 and SB 9), eight E-Verify bills (HB 178, HB 202, HB 1275, HB 2450, HB 3129, HB 3252, SB 84, and SB 1254), and several other enforcement measures. Member also contacted legislators in opposition to three guest worker amnesty measures – HB 2757, HB 2886 and HCR 88. When the regular session ended, Gov. Perry allowed legislators to take up anti-sanctuary legislation in special session but committee chairmen again used their power to stave off passage.
Utah: Members contacted Representatives in support of HB70 and HB 497 (illegal-presence bills), HB 253 (a weak E-Verify sanctions bill) and SB138 (abolishes driving privilege cards for illegal aliens). Members also repeatedly contacted the House in opposition to HB 116 (unconstitutional amnesty bill creating a guest worker program for illegal aliens) and HB 469 (another guest worker bill for foreign nationals in Mexico). HB 70, HB 116, HB 253, and HB 497 all passed the House. In the end, an enforcement bill (HB 497) and two guest worker bills (HB 116 and HB 469) cleared the legislature. Members asked Gov. Gary Herbert to sign the the enforcement bill and veto the guest worker bills but he chose to sign all three bills. Undeterred, Utahns started a grassroots effort seeking the repeal of HB 116. That effort resulted in passage of a state Republican Party resolution calling for its repeal.
Virginia: Members urged Representatives to pass HB 1732 (E-Verify for state/local contractors and businesses with 15+ employees), HB 1421 (anti-sanctuary legislation) and HB 1430 (post-arrest immigration status checks). This legislation, plus seven additional enforcement bills, passed the House. However, a Senate committee killed all but two of the bills. One measure was incorporated into SB 1049, which requires state contractors with 50+ employees to use E-Verify. Members pressed Senators to extend the bill’s E-Verify requirements to all employers but were unsuccessful. In the end, the governor signed SB 1049 and HB 1651, which allows the DMV to cancel driver’s licenses of persons found to be illegal aliens.
NumbersUSA members should be proud of their accomplishments this year. Important enforcement bills became law despite opposition from business groups, anti-enforcement organizations, religious groups and a biased media. And a number of the pro-illegal alien bills were defeated notwithstanding efforts by many of the same entities.
I am encouraged about our prospects for 2012. I’ll give you more details in a blog I plan to post after Jan. 1 but, for now, suffice it to say that key legislative battles that began in 2011 may well continue in 2012.
VAN ESSER is the Chief of Membership Services for NumbersUSA