Immigration Fact Sheet:  Immigration Law

The U.S. Constitution grants the federal legislative branch the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” This means that the federal government, specifically Congress, is responsible for crafting immigration law — the laws that determine how and when non-citizens can become naturalized citizens of the United States.

Facts You Should Know

  • In the late 1800’s Congress took action to restrict Chinese immigration. The Supreme Court upheld the power of Congress to act, even though the laws were discriminatory and ignored due process.
  • States do control driver licenses, and a majority of states (including Florida) do not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses. As of February, 2016, only 12 states and the District of Columbia issue driver licenses to undocumented immigrants.
  • In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyler vs. Doe that undocumented children and young adults have the same right to attend public primary and secondary schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents..
  • Five states (Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina) have passed laws allowing police to question people about their immigration status.
  • In the 2012 Arizona case, the Supreme Court ruled that Arizona could not criminalize the act of being present in the United States without documentation, upholding the “broad, undoubted power” of Congress to control immigration.

More Information on Immigration Law…

National Public Radio

Insights: Who is Responsible for Immigration Policy?

New York Times: Which States Make Life Harder for Illegal Immigrants

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