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NYU School of Law and Migration Policy Institute Announce New Database Demonstrating That Immigration Bills Expanding Immigrants’ Rights Have Higher Passage Rate

October 6, 2008
N-78, 2008-09

New York University School of Law and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a non-partisan think tank dedicated to the study of global migration, today launched a comprehensive online searchable database of all immigration bills introduced in 2007. The database demonstrates that even as public attention has focused chiefly on legislation that would curtail immigrants’ rights or crack down on illegal immigration, measures that expand immigrants’ rights actually pass at a higher rate.

The database was compiled by NYU School of Law students under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Law Cristina Rodríguez, who is also a non-resident MPI fellow, and Muzaffar Chisti, director of MPI’s office at NYU School of Law.

“The trend is clear: At a time when Washington has been resoundingly silent on immigration policy, states have become increasingly active on the legislative front and are introducing bills that touch on everything from law enforcement to housing, health care, and immigrant integration policies,” Rodríguez said. “This database offers an important window on the contours of the debate taking place in state legislatures across the nation.”

In the coming months, the database will add all bills introduced since 2001 as well as this year’s legislative activity. The database, which includes a synopsis of each bill, is accompanied by the report Regulating Immigration at the State Level: Highlights from the Database of 2007 State Immigration Legislation and the Methodology.

Co-authored by Rodríguez, MPI policy analyst Laureen Laglagaron, Alexa Silver ‘08, and Sirithon Thanasombat ‘09, the report found that just 16 percent of the 1,059 bills proposed in 2007 were enacted into law, with the rest rejected, expired, or still pending.

While bills designed to regulate employment or expand state and local immigration enforcement were the most popular subjects for legislation (accounting for 551 of the 1,059 bills), bills designed to expand immigrants’ rights had the highest enactment rate of any immigration legislation, at 19 percent. Measures contracting immigrants’ rights or relating to enforcement each had an 11 percent enactment rate, while those regulating employment had a 10 percent passage rate.

“While much public and media attention is focused on states’ efforts to increase immigration law enforcement or deter the hiring of illegal immigrants, that’s only one part of the story,” Chishti said. “In fact, bills that aimed to integrate immigrants into the broader society or protect them were more likely in 2007 to become law.”

Bills were classified by state, geographic region, subject area, and bill status, allowing users to find out, for example, the status of enforcement initiatives introduced in their state, compare all bills across the United States regulating employment, or evaluate the passage rate of bills affecting housing.

Separately, under a legislative typology developed by NYU School of Law and MPI, bills were catalogued on the basis of whether they expand immigrants’ rights, contract immigrants’ rights, or regulate employment or law enforcement.

The database can be accessed online at:

The 2007 report and detailed methodology can be accessed online at:

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
School of Law, Research

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Michael Orey | (914) 340-5555


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