Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for difficult challenges. When states serve their traditional role as laboratories of innovation, they increase the American people’s confidence that the government they choose—no matter the size—can be effective, responsive, and in the public interest.
This report will help states and localities prepare for their potential roles in implementing any future federal legalization program for unauthorized immigrants. It reviews previous and ongoing immigration initiatives and identifies four key roles played by state and local governments: outreach, documentation, education and protection of immigrants from fraudulent services.
The research also highlights how the growth and geographic dispersion of the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States—which historically has been concentrated in six states and is now spread across the country—means that all states may play a role in implementing a new legalization program.