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The Government Law Center publishes explainers--short policy papers--designed to help policymakers and others understand the complex laws that apply to state and local governments' choices about immigration policy. Each explainer briefly reviews the law in a specific area, and provides links to further resources.
(Click here for Explainer)
In an effort to better integrate their immigrant communities, a number of local governments across the country are issuing resident identification cards known as "municipal IDs." This explainer will outline the various reasons a local government may choose to create a municipal ID and the mechanisms by which such a program may be adopted. It will then discuss how municipal IDs interact with state and federal law, and some of the privacy and other concerns that have arisen in localities across the country with municipal IDs.
Immigrants and Public Benefits: What Must States and Localities Provide?
Public benefits for noncitizens are a source of great controversy, but exactly what public benefits do noncitizens receive? The Equal Protection Clause generally requires that states and localities give noncitizens the same benefits as citizens. But Congress sometimes requires that states and localities treat noncitizens differently. This Explainer reviews the laws that govern this complicated area, and offers resources for people trying to navigate it.
Although the topic of "sanctuary" jurisdictions is much-discussed, the term "sanctuary" has no legal meaning. State and local governments face a complicated set of choices about how to interact with federal immigration authorities. Four major policy questions must be considered.
First, states and localities have to decide whether to contribute resources to federal immigration enforcement efforts. Second, they must decide whether to detain noncitizens at the request of federal authorities. Third, jurisdictions can limit the extent to which they share information about noncitizens with the federal government--although every jurisdiction, even "sanctuaries," shares significant amounts of information about noncitizens. Finally, states and localities may try to limit the extent to which immigration agents can physically access state-controlled properties, like jails and courthouses.
In each area, there is a spectrum of choices available, from full cooperation to neutrality to active resistance. This explainer identifies the actions state and local governments have taken, and identifies resources for policymakers who wish to learn more.
A U Visa is a temporary visa for victims of certain crimes who have been helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. The purpose of the U Visa is to "strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to detect, investigate, and prosecute" certain serious crimes and to protect victims.
The U Visa is an important tool for local governments to build trust with immigrant crime victims and communities and to strengthen enforcement efforts against those who target immigrants. This explainer gives an overview of the U Visa and the role of state and local government officials in the U Visa process.