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									F               Wisconsin Briefs

                      from the Legislative Reference Bureau

Brief 07−6                                                                            April 2007

                             ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

INTRODUCTION                                       criminal enforcement that supports illegal
                                                   immigration control. While state police may
     In April 2006, the Pew Hispanic Center        investigate criminal activities such as a false
in Washington, D.C. estimated that of the 11       identification or alien smuggling rings, fed­
million foreign­born individuals thought to        eral immigration officials will handle civil
be living illegally in the United States today,    issues involving citizenship and deporta­
between 75,000 and 115,000 live in Wiscon­         tion, and do so without any input or assis­
sin. The federal government is concerned           tance from the state. However, this tradi­
with illegal immigration because it presents       tional separation of sovereign powers is
potential threats to the country’s domestic        slowly eroding as states are granted, and in
and economic security. But illegal immigra­        some cases are taking, more of a role in deal­
tion also has an immense impact on state and       ing with illegal immigration.
local governments, involving education,
law enforcement, health, and public assis­         The Illegal Immigration Reform and
tance. For the most part, immigration has          Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
been under the jurisdiction and control of             The Illegal Immigration Reform and
the federal government, which has priori­          Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
tized eliminating unlawful entry at the bor­       amended the INA to allow the U.S. Attorney
ders, especially in the American Southwest.        General to enter into agreements with state
However, as illegal immigration grows more         and local governments to use their own local
prevalent across the country, and its effects      agents in immigration enforcement within
increasingly impact localities far from            their local jurisdiction. At that time, there
national borders, states are beginning to take     were over 500,000 state and local law
action.                                            enforcement agents, a number which
                                                   dwarfed that of the available federal
FEDERAL LAW                                        immigration agents. This was the motivat­
                                                   ing factor in approving the act, despite its
     Congress enacted the McCarran­Walter          effect of blurring the line between federal
Bill of 1952, which combined existing              and state immigration enforcement powers.
immigration laws scattered throughout the              Increases in illegal immigration in the
federal statutes and recodified them into the      intervening years have made the agree­
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA),             ments that resulted from the act a vital part
located in Title 8 of the U.S. Code. The INA       of immigration law enforcement efforts.
contains both civil and criminal laws that are     Because of this, Congress continues to con­
applied to immigration issues. Tradition­          sider bills such as the Homeland Security
ally, the federal government has reserved          Enhancement Act of 2005 and the Clear Law
civil enforcement power, such as verifying         Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal
citizenship and deporting undocumented             Act of 2005, which would increase the role of
aliens, for itself, while allowing state and       state and local governments in immigration
local governments some power over the              law enforcement. The federal government

 Prepared by Jason Anderson, Legislative Analyst          Reference Desk: (608) 266­0341
                                                          Web Site:
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has also sought to involve the states in            ment or interior enforcement. Although
immigration through administrative means            Wisconsin is a border state, its northern bor­
not related to law enforcement.                     der with Canada is not seen as a major entry
                                                    point for illegal immigrants, so enforcement
The Real ID Act of 2005                             in the state has largely been focused on inte­
     In some cases, the federal government          rior issues. Traditionally, the federal govern­
involves states in less direct immigration          ment has focused funding on border
enforcement, as with the Real ID Act of 2005.       enforcement in the American Southwest,
The Real ID Act requires, in part, that a per­      giving less attention to other issues and
son present a federally accepted identifica­        areas. This has led states with interior
tion card in order to do such things as open        enforcement problems, like Wisconsin, to
a bank account, travel on a plane, or take          explore more creative ways to enforce
advantage of a variety of government ser­           immigration law. In addition to Act 126, the
vices. The act further requires that the states     legislature considered various other mea­
issue driver’s licenses that comply with Real       sures intended to address illegal immigra­
ID standards, which require more in­depth           tion during the 2005 legislative session.
identification and a citizenship inquiry.           None, however, were enacted.
     Critics have accused the federal govern­       2005 Assembly Bill 227 – Legal Services
ment of essentially coercing the states into
fighting illegal immigration, but not com­               2005 Assembly Bill 227 would have
pensating them for the expense. States will         created new legal requirements and limits
have to make changes to their state identifi­       for notaries public who are not licensed
cation, and changes to the application pro­         attorneys. Specifically, the bill would have
cess itself, because state identification will be   prohibited a notary from taking actions or
less useful if it does not comply with federal      making statements that could mislead oth­
requirements. The claim that the federal            ers into thinking he or she is an attorney.
government is coercing states into immigra­         This bill involved immigration issues
tion enforcement has been somewhat dimin­           because of its prohibition on non­English
ished, however, as many states have volun­          advertising, unless the advertisement
tarily taken on citizenship issues,                 includes, in both English and in the language
independent of any direction from the fed­          of the advertisement, that the notary is not
eral government.                                    an attorney. The concern is that recent immi­
     In March 2006, the Wisconsin Legisla­          grants from Spanish­speaking countries
ture passed 2005 Assembly Bill 69, which            may confuse a notary public for a notario
added a proof of permanent legal status             publico. A notorio publico is a profession in
requirement to the criteria for acquiring a         some Spanish­speaking countries, which is
Wisconsin driver’s license or identification        similar to our notary public, but carries more
card. Governor Doyle signed the bill and it         legal authority and responsibility, making
became 2005 Wisconsin Act 126. When it              them more like attorneys than notaries in the
became effective on April 1, 2007, Act 126          United States.
brought Wisconsin into compliance with the               In some southern border states, there
requirements of the Real ID Act and offi­           have been reports of notaries public misrep­
cially made Wisconsin identification feder­         resenting their role in the immigration pro­
ally accepted.                                      cess, providing dubious, unsanctioned legal
                                                    advice and accepting payment for simple
WISCONSIN LEGISLATION                               tasks from immigrants who assume they
                                                    have such authority based on their title. In
    Immigration enforcement typically falls         response to such situations, several similar
into one of two categories: border enforce­         bills have been introduced in other states.
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The bills are an attempt to protect legal          2007­2008 biennial budget bill, 2007 Senate
immigrants and non­English­speaking citi­          Bill 40.
zens from being victimized, and to discour­
                                                   2005 Assembly Bill 703 − Employment
age relationships between notaries public
and immigrants seeking illegal entry into the           2005 Assembly Bill 703 would have
United States.                                     created certain penalties against for­profit
    The bill was introduced in March 2005          enterprises hiring an undocumented alien.
but was not reported out of committee.             Again, this designation includes both for­
                                                   eign citizens who overstay a visa, and those
                                                   who immigrate to the United States illegally.
2005 Assembly Bill 576 − Education                      The penalty for hiring an undocu­
                                                   mented alien would essentially preclude
     2005 Assembly Bill 576 would have             guilty companies from receiving certain
allowed aliens who are not permanent legal         government benefits. Specifically, a com­
residents of the United States to pay resi­        pany would be denied any income or fran­
dent, as opposed to higher nonresident,            chise tax credits and any property tax
tuition or fees at a University of Wisconsin       exemptions from the state, would be unable
System or Wisconsin Technical College Sys­         to enter into the most common kinds of pub­
tem school if they meet certain require­           lic contracts with state or local governments,
ments. Additionally, the Wisconsin Techni­         and would be ineligible to receive any grants
cal College System normally only admits            or loans from any local government unit.
Wisconsin residents, but the bill would            This bill is an example of the kind of interior
allow admission of a nonresident if these          immigration enforcement that is increas­
same requirements are met. The bill would          ingly found in many states that do not have
essentially allow a citizen of any other coun­     a high­traffic border, but still face problems
try to become a Wisconsin resident for the         as a result of the immigration that happens
purposes of the UW and Wisconsin Techni­           elsewhere.
cal College Systems if they meet the neces­
                                                        The bill was introduced in September
sary requirements.
                                                   2005 and referred to the Assembly Commit­
     Undocumented aliens who wished to be          tee on Labor, where it died. The proposal has
treated as Wisconsin residents by the UW or        been reintroduced in this session as 2007 As­
Wisconsin Technical College Systems would          sembly Bill 101.
have to meet three requirements: 1) be a
graduate of a Wisconsin high school or have        2005 Senate Bill 43 – Housing Assistance
acquired a general equivalency diploma                  2005 Senate Bill 43 would have required
(GED) in Wisconsin, 2) have been continu­          a social security number from an applicant
ously present in the state for at least three      for any housing or economic development
years following his or her first day of attend­    loan from the Wisconsin Housing and Eco­
ing a Wisconsin high school, and 3) enroll in      nomic Development Authority (WHEDA).
a UW or Wisconsin Technical College Sys­                Requiring a social security number from
tem school and provide the school with an          those applying for a loan essentially makes
affidavit stating that he or she has filed an      those without a social security number ineli­
application for permanent legal residency in       gible for assistance from WHEDA. The bill
the United States, or will file such an applica­   would therefore deny WHEDA assistance to
tion as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.    any undocumented alien, though it would
     The bill was introduced in July 2005 and      do so based on the absence of a social secu­
referred to the Committee on Colleges and          rity number rather than on any inquiry into
Universities, where it ultimately died. This       an applicant’s citizenship, which is a power
proposal has returned as part of the               normally reserved for the federal govern­
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ment. Many states have attempted to put          able committee recommendation             but
pressure on undocumented aliens by requir­       received no further action.
ing a social security number as a condition to
utilizing popular programs and services.         2005 Senate Bill 567 – Public Assistance
These laws also generally deal with matters           2005 Senate Bill 567 would have
of state concern, thereby avoiding conflicts     required documentary proof of citizenship
with the federal government on immigra­          from any person applying for public assis­
tion jurisdiction and tradition.                 tance from the Wisconsin Department of
     The bill was introduced in February         Health and Family Services or the Wisconsin
2005 and referred to the Committee on            Department of Workforce Development.
Housing and Financial Institutions. It was       Public assistance includes low­income ser­
withdrawn from that committee two                vices such as Wisconsin Works income assis­
months later and referred to the Committee       tance, medical assistance, and food stamps.
on Veterans, Homeland Security, Military         The measure was introduced in February
Affairs, Small Business and Government           2006 and passed the legislature three months
Reform, where it was recommended for pas­        later, in May.
sage but died before a full senate vote was           This bill was passed by the legislature,
taken.                                           but was vetoed by Governor Doyle on May
                                                 26, 2006. According to the governor’s veto
                                                 message, he vetoed the bill because the fed­
2005 Senate Bill 715 – Law Enforcement
                                                 eral Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 already
     2005 Senate Bill 715 would have prohib­     created a similar requirement of documen­
ited units of local government from passing      tary proof of citizenship, which Wisconsin
a law or ordinance prohibiting immigration       adheres to. This proposal has returned as
status inquiries by their own employees.         part of the 2007­2008 biennial budget bill,
                                                 2007 Senate Bill 40.
     Local government in Wisconsin derives
its powers from the state constitution and
                                                 STATE LAWS
the legislature; therefore, the legislature is
able to impose some limits on what kind of           States have adopted various approaches
laws cities, villages, towns, and counties can   to deal with immigration.
pass. As an example, barring any conflict
with other laws, a city could pass an ordi­      Employment − Colorado
nance prohibiting its employees from                 The governor of Colorado signed a
inquiring about the citizenship of residents     number of immigration­related bills on July
who seek services, perhaps to avoid deter­       31, 2006, including 2006 House Bill 1017,
ring immigrants from reporting crimes. Sen­      which requires that employers verify each
ate Bill 715 would have prohibited munici­       employee’s citizenship within 20 days of
palities from being able to pass or enforce an   hire, and retain proof of each employee’s
ordinance that prohibits inquiring about         legal status. Under the law, the state has the
immigration status. Although the bill would      power to audit employers and assess a fine
not grant any civil immigration enforcement      of $5,000 against those who show “reckless
powers to Wisconsin municipalities, it           disregard” in their investigation of
would guarantee that no municipality could       employees or submission of proof of citizen­
prohibit the exercise of such a power if it      ship. States such as Georgia and Idaho have
were ever realized.                              passed similar laws to give private firms
     The bill was introduced in April 2006       more responsibility in the enforcement of
and referred to the Committee on Judiciary,      immigration laws and to reiterate and rein­
Corrections and Privacy. It received a favor­    force existing federal laws.
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Human Trafficking − Iowa                           either of those designations, such as undocu­
                                                   mented aliens, can receive only emergency
     2006 Iowa Senate Bill 2219 was signed         medical services under the law. Other states
into law by the governor on April 21, 2006.        have proposed such laws, and some have
It was comprehensive human trafficking             even proposed providing absolutely no
legislation that makes human trafficking a         health care assistance for undocumented
felony under Iowa state law. The State             aliens, including emergency care.
Department estimates that 18,000 to 20,000
individuals are trafficked into the United         Study − North Carolina
States each year, in violation of existing fed­
eral law. The Iowa law defines the different            The governor of North Carolina signed
acts that constitute human trafficking,            2006 House Bill 1723 on August 16, 2006.
makes trafficking a crime under state law,         The bill became The Studies Act of 2006, and
sets a penalty for violating that state law, and   it contains instructions and funding for the
creates a Victim’s Compensation Fund. The          Legislative Research Commission to begin a
law also calls for a study to examine the          variety of state sponsored studies. Section
effects of human trafficking on its victims in     2.1(e) directs the Commission to study the
an effort to combat the circumstances that         impact of undocumented aliens on the state
make people vulnerable to traffickers.             of North Carolina. Under the law, the Com­
                                                   mission may consider illegal immigration’s
Voting − Virginia                                  impact on social services, the criminal justice
                                                   system, and the state’s economy, among
    Many states are dealing with concerns          other topics. This study marks one of the
that undocumented aliens are voting in elec­       first times a state has looked at the wide­
tions in the United States. The governor of        reaching repercussions of illegal immigra­
Virginia signed 2006 House Bill 170, which         tion and how it impacts one state, rather than
addresses noncitizens voting in Virginia           the country as a whole.
elections, on May 18, 2006. The law requires
the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles          Omnibus − Georgia
to provide the State Elections Board each
month with a list of driver’s license appli­            In a somewhat novel approach, Georgia
cants who are not documented citizens. The         chose to deal with illegal immigration
State Elections Board is able to cancel the        through one wide­ranging bill. The Georgia
voter registration of anyone who appears on        Legislature passed 2006 Senate Bill 529 and
the Department of Motor Vehicles list as           it was signed on April 17, 2006, by the gover­
undocumented. The State Elections Board            nor. The bill addressed a number of illegal
must then keep those with undocumented             immigration­related issues, from human
individuals in a separate database for four        trafficking to state enforcement of federal
years to prevent re­registration as a legal        immigration law to state tax and benefit
voter.                                             treatment for aliens. The law is known as
                                                   The Georgia Security and Immigration
Health Care − Arizona                              Compliance Act, and it is an example of how
                                                   states can address many immigration con­
     The Arizona Legislature passed a bill,        cerns with one unified legislative response.
signed by the governor on April 24, 2006,          Other states are considering using the inter­
which requires an individual to be a United        est in immigration reform to fast­track their
States citizen or a permanent legal resident       own omnibus immigration bills to cut down
in order to receive any state health care bene­    on the obstacles and distractions of multiple
fits or assistance. Individuals who do not fit     bills.
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                          Estimated Illegal Immigrant Population, by State, 2005

                                                MT               ND                                                             VT
                         OR                                                                                                          NH     MA
                                     ID                                                                                    NY
                                                                 SD                         WI                                              RI
                                                 WY                                                                   PA                  CT
                                                                                  IA                                                 NJ
                                                                  NE                                        OH                       DE
                               NV                                                            IL       IN
                                          UT                                                                     WV                   MD
                    CA                                CO
                                                                       KS           MO                     KY
                                                                         OK                                          SC
                                      AZ                                               AR
                                                                                                 MS    AL       GA



                                                           HI                           300,000-400,000 to 2,500,000-2,750,000
                                                                                       75,000-100,000 to 250,000-300,000
                                                                                        10,000-30,000 to 55,000-85,000
                                                                                        less than 10,000

High Illegal Immigrant Population States                                    Low Illegal Immigrant Population States
California – 2,500,000­2,750,000                                            Indiana – 55,000­85,000
Texas – 1,400,000­1,600,000                                                 Iowa – 55,000­85,000
Florida – 800,000­950,000                                                   Oklahoma – 50,000­75,000
New York – 550,000­650,000                                                  New Mexico – 50,000­75,000
Arizona – 400,000­450,000                                                   Kansas – 40,000­70,000
Illinois – 375,000­425,000                                                  South Carolina – 35,000­75,000
Georgia – 350,000­450,000                                                   Missouri – 35,000­65,000
New Jersey – 350,000­425,000                                                Nebraska – 35,000­55,000
North Carolina – 300,000­400,000                                            Kentucky – 30,000­60,000
Medium Illegal Immigrant Population States                                  Alabama – 30,000­50,000
Virginia – 250,000­300,000                                                  Mississippi – 30,000­50,000
Maryland – 225,000­275,000                                                  Arkansas – 30,000­50,000
Colorado – 225,000­275,000                                                  Louisiana – 25,000­40,000
Washington – 200,000­250,000                                                Idaho 25,000­45,000
Massachusetts – 150,000­250,000                                             Rhode Island – 20,000­40,000
Nevada – 150,000­200,000                                                    Hawaii – 20,000­35,000
Pennsylvania – 125,000­175,000                                              Delaware – 15,000­35,000
Oregon – 125,000­175,000                                                    New Hampshire – 10,000­30,000
Tennessee – 100,000­150,000                                                 Very Low Illegal Immigrant Population States
Michigan – 100,000­150,000                                                  Alaska – Less than 10,000
Ohio – 75,000­150,000                                                       Wyoming – Less than 10,000
Wisconsin – 75,000­115,000                                                  South Dakota – Less than 10,000
Minnesota – 75,000­100,000                                                  Maine – Less than 10,000
Utah – 75,000­100,000                                                       Vermont – Less than 10,000
Connecticut – 75,000­100,000                                                North Dakota – Less than 10,000
                                                                            Montana – Less than 10,000
                                                                            West Virginia – Less than 10,000
U.S. Total Illegal Immigration Population – 10,700,000­11,500,000. Estimates calculated by the Pew Hispanic Center and based on March 2005
Current Population Survey.

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