Federal and State Immigration Laws

Laws that are created at the federal level are applied to states and their citizens. These laws are rooted in the United States Constitution, which establishes the power of the federal government over all states.

State laws can vary between states, and only residents, organizations, and visitors within the state are subject to these laws.

Although states are able to assist in immigration regulation and enforcement, it is the federal government that has the legal power to enforce U.S. immigration laws.

This can result in a lack of clarity or consistency in the ways in which immigration cases are processed.

The U.S. Constitution includes a Supremacy Clause, which prevents state laws from interfering with immigration enforcement by the federal government.

Immigration Rights and Powers of States

There are a number of ways in which state governments become involved with immigration cases. States are explicitly allowed by the federal governments to utilize licensing laws to regulate the employment of immigrants who illegally reside in the U.S.

State governments may also have laws in place that allow them to control the access of public programs by immigrants. Applicants must have their citizenship status verified when applying for eligibility to receive public service benefits.

State-level authorities may aid in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. This allows them to detain immigrants who have been convicted of a felony in the past and are illegally in the United States.