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Life as an Immigrant Depends on Where You Live

September 23, 2013
Plain English Version

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Better in Some States

It is hard to say whether an immigration reform bill will soon become law. Global events and national politics may push the legislation to the back of the line.

States are looking at how immigration affects them. They are beginning to see that immigrants offer both advantages and challenges.

Take California. It is a state of 38 million people. The number of legal foreign residents in the state is 3.5 million people. The number of undocumented residents is estimated to be 2.5 million people. That means that more than 15 percent of the population are noncitizens.

California wants legal permanent residents to start performing their civic duties. That means serving on juries. Or watching the polls on Election Day. Or helping voters who do not read English.

Supporters of passing such laws say it is time to bring immigrants into the community. Opponents say it is a way of blurring the line between citizenship and noncitizenship.

The movement is intended to make immigrants more at home in the U.S. More than a dozen states now grant undocumented immigrants in-state college tuition. Nine states and the District of Columbia also allow them to obtain driver’s licenses.

California also became the first state to allow a person brought to the U.S. as a youngster to become a licensed attorney.

It does matter where you live in this country. Arizona, Alabama and Georgia are anti-immigrant states. New York, California and Illinois are pro-immigrant states.

All young people are entitled to go to public school. Other benefits, such as Medicaid, are somewhat open to immigrants based on state law. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is not available to undocumented residents. Even legal residents must meet certain rules.

Source: The New York Times

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