37 Int'l Migration Rev. 5 (2003)

handle is hein.journals/imgratv37 and id is 1 raw text is: 

The Decline of Barriers to Immigrant

Economic and Political Rights in the

American States: 1977-2001'

Luis E B. Plascencia
Gary E Freeman
University of Texas at Austin

Mark  Setzler
University of Portland

    State governments exercise significant powers to regulate the economic
    and social activities of resident aliens. We review the laws of the six lead-
    ing states of immigrant settlement regulating access of noncitizens to 23
    occupations,  updating  existing studies from  1946-77.  Citizenship
    requirements  for these occupations  have plummeted,   a  change we
    attribute to federal court decisions, advisory opinions of state attorneys
    general, and state legislative and administrative action. There are numer-
    ous additional citizenship requirements in the statutes of the six states,
    although these appear to be poorly enforced. The authority of states to
    regulate their political communities is the most important remaining
    constitutionally valid basis of citizenship requirements. States define their
    political community broadly, leading to questionable exclusions of nonci-
    tizens from important activities.

Since major welfare legislation was adopted in 1996, considerable attention
has been paid to the 'new Federalism,' 'devolution,' and the enlarged role of
states to make decisions regarding public assistance for immigrants (Fix and
Tumlin,  1998; Urban Institute, 1997-2000). Although states now have more
specific authority over immigrant eligibility for some public benefit programs
as a result of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconcilia-
tion Act (PRWORA), it   is misleading to assert that state policymaking for
immigrants  is new. The federal government determines the entry and stay of
immigrants, as well as the terms for acquiring U.S. citizenship, but states play
an  important role in making policies that shape incorporation after entry

'We wish to acknowledge financial support from the Public Policy Clinic of the Department
of Government, University of Texas, Austin, and Levi-Strauss & Company through a grant to
the Tomsis Rivera Policy Institute. Anna Law, Tom Parks, and Huei-Hsia Wu provided
research assistance.

 2003 by the Center for Migration Studies of New York. All rights reserved.

IMR  Volume 37 Number  1 (Spring 2003):5-23


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