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Immigration Local and State Report: Florida, Georgia, New York, New Mexico

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Earlier this week we witnessed how immigration unfolded as a key issue throughout the Iowa Caucus. As immigration remains as one of the most prominent topics at the national level, particularly within the 2016 election cycle, states are also trying to enact legislation that will undoubtedly impact immigrant communities.

Here s a breakdown of what immigration proposals are being discussed at the state level.

Florida: Yesterday, the Florida House of Representatives passed HB875. This Trump-inspired bill that would force local governments and law enforcement to collaborate with immigration enforcement agencies at a level that is is neither funded nor mandated by the federal government. Advocates have called HB675 an unfunded mandate, while the editorial boards of the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times have explicitly denounced the bill as “overreaching” and “burdensome.”

Georgia: Undocumented students in Georgia were handed some unfortunate news earlier this week. The Georgia Supreme Court has rejected an appeal that would have allowed the students to make their case for access in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. Despite the setback, students in Georgia have pledged to continue their push for in-state tuition. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that another legal challenge is in in the works.

New York: Cesar Vargas, co-founder of the DRM Action Coalition, was sworn in as the first undocumented lawyer in the state of New York. As reported by the New York Times, Vargas fought a four year battle after completing his law degree in order to be admitted into the New York Bar State Bar. “I must admit, there were moments where I felt defeated; there were moments where I thought I was not going to be a lawyer,” Vargas said at a press conference moments after he was sworn in.

New Mexico: Governor Susana Martinez has called for the repeal of a state law that grants driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but a legislative proposal that would make the state’s current driver’s licenses with REAL ID could also grant driver’s authorization cards to undocumented immigrants. The measure is currently being criticized over language that imposes a fingerprint requirement.