State Legislators Press for U.S. Immigration Reform

Published August 1, 2007

State legislators disappointed with the inability of Congress to agree on immigration reform have formed a new group to fight illegal immigration in the United States.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryle Metcalfe (R-Butler County) is the founding member of State Legislators for Legal Immigration, which currently claims as members state legislators from 25 states. Metcalfe officially founded the group on May 22.

The group describes its mission as “to provide a network of state legislators who are committed to working together in demanding full cooperation among our federal, state, and local governments” on immigration.

Metcalfe said this includes eliminating all economic attractions and incentives–such as welfare and other taxpayer-funded public benefits, education, and job opportunities–that may prompt people to sneak across the border.

“State Legislators for Legal Immigration will support the interests of American workers, American national security, and American taxpayers,” said Colorado state Rep. Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs), one of the group’s first members. “Americans expect their leaders to secure our borders, to oppose amnesty, and to enforce our immigration laws, and that’s exactly what we intend to do.”

Letter to Bush

In a letter to President George W. Bush shortly after the group’s founding, members noted the following:

  • “State Legislators for Legal Immigration believe that American citizens, both born and naturalized, along with legal resident aliens, must be shown the respect that they deserve by requiring each and every person who desires to reside in our nation to do so through the legal immigration process.”
  • “We oppose any legislation that grants favored immigration status to those individuals who have violated our borders, and we demand that you and Congress uphold and defend our U.S. Constitution by securing our borders immediately.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of April 2007 state legislators in all 50 states had introduced 1,169 immigration reform bills and resolutions–more than twice the number (570) introduced in 2006. To date, 57 immigration reform measurers have been enacted in up to 20 states.

Members Across Country

With 25 states represented in the newly formed group, legislators are now speaking up about immigration, from Arizona to New Hampshire.

“Last session [2006] we were successful in having New Hampshire adopt a statute against peonage–knowingly holding a victim in a condition of involuntary servitude in satisfaction of a debt,” said New Hampshire state Rep. Jordan Ulery (R- Hudson). “The penalty for employing an illegal alien was also increased from $1,000 to $2,500 for each day of non-compliance.”

John W. Skorburg ([email protected]) is a visiting lecturer in economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago and associate editor of Budget & Tax News.

For more information …

More information about State Legislators for Legal Immigration, including a complete list of members, can be found at its Web site,