Over a period of time national immigration has depicted a slow evolution that has spawned political forces and this process has proved to be a very complex process. The various states demanded and ensured that their interests were not ignored, during the process of formulating federal policy in the context of immigration. Immigration politics was transformed beyond recognition and there was an emergence of national interest groups. Some instances are that after the Great Depression, Congress made no attempt to curb the flow of immigrants into the country.
However, the local and state governments ensured that the number of immigrants was severely curtailed and improved relations with Europe by preventing the entry of Jews into the US. Moreover, the 1952 McCarren – Walter Act was implemented because immigration policy was held to be closely related to national security concerns that were consequent to the foreign policy requirements of the cold war (Fitzgerald, 1996). The scope of authority of states and local law bodies to enforce the immigration law has been widened by the Congress on account of the several amendments made to the Immigration and Nationality Act or INA.
Various statutes determine the role of states in implementing civil matters. The states of Alabama and Florida have entered into agreements with the Federal Government to make changes in the state and local law bodies in order to accommodate new and restrictive duties with regard to implementation of immigration laws. The issue of implementation of immigration law by states and local law bodies has become a subject matter for nationwide discussion and debate.
The present situation is that the authority of state and local law bodies in relation to the implementation of immigration law is being hotly debated and has given rise to various legal competences (Enforcing Immigration Law: The Role of State and Local Law Enforcement). At present a narrow and limited authority is vested with the states in the implementation of civil and criminal competences proved by the Immigration and Nationality Act. However, the proposed legislative amendments would widen the scope of the authority of state and local law enforcement bodies in implementing the civil regulatory controls of immigration law.
These controls include identifying and detaining deportable aliens for purposes of removal. These amendments would allow the implementation of civil immigration law by the state and local law enforcement bodies. The result has been that it has become necessary to bring in legal experts to evaluate the legal competence of state and law bodies in implementing civil measures in immigration law (Enforcing Immigration Law: The Role of State and Local Law Enforcement). In the year 2006, several changes in the legislation relating to immigrants was incorporated in state legislatures.
There were no less than ninety bills and subsequent resolutions in that year. Of them eighty four bills were ratified and incorporated into the law and six bills were vetoed. The legislation addressed a number of aspects and out of these the states concentrated mainly on issues regarding education, employment, personal identification and driving licenses, implementation of legal principles, services pertaining to law, public benefits, trafficking, and voting processes (2006 State Legislation Related to Immigration: Enacted and Vetoed, 2006).