State and federal laws on immigration in the United States differ and intersect in several significant ways. At the core, federal immigration laws are established and enforced by the U.S. federal government, governing issues such as visas, deportation, citizenship, and border enforcement. These federal laws are applied uniformly across the country. On the other hand, state immigration laws are enacted and enforced at the state level, addressing a range of issues like driver’s licenses, access to public benefits, and law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities. This state-level authority allows for variations in immigration-related policies and regulations from one state to another.
One prominent area of intersection is the issue of driver’s licenses. States possess the authority to issue driver’s licenses and identification cards, and their policies regarding whether undocumented immigrants can obtain driver’s licenses can vary widely. Some states have implemented policies that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, while others do not. This exemplifies how state and federal laws on immigration intersect, as states exercise their discretion in determining eligibility for this particular benefit. However, federal immigration laws primarily govern matters like border enforcement and deportation, with states having varying degrees of influence and discretion in other areas, resulting in a complex and sometimes contentious relationship between state and federal immigration laws.
Though there were relatively few bills affecting immigration monitored by EPU during the 2023 legislative session, we thought it important to make note of the following: