By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSThe number of states required to provide immigration services has grown in recent years, with some saying they are going to start accepting more applicants.
The states where people from countries with high levels of immigration have been admitted include California, Florida, New York and Texas.
A handful of states and the District of Columbia are still considering their own procedures.
But immigration advocates are still concerned about the federal government’s ability to enforce federal immigration laws.
They say the country has enough resources to help immigrants legally obtain citizenship and the current level of deportations of immigrants who are in the country illegally makes it difficult to make progress.
“I think that this is an issue that the courts have had a role in,” said Peter G. Zimroth, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
“But I don’t think the courts are going into these areas with any particular zeal.”
The immigration law has been controversial since it was passed in 1986 and requires federal immigration agents to obtain warrants before entering certain states and localities.
But the court cases and the federal response to them have created an environment where many states are hesitant to enforce the laws, said Michael R. Lofgren, president of the National Immigration Law Center in Washington.
States that already accept immigrants under the laws that require them to apply for a waiver from the federal law are now turning to localities to start receiving immigrants.
For instance, in Virginia, which had been accepting migrants in a federal jail, local jails were beginning to turn away migrants.
“We are now seeing this happening more and more, and it is a reflection of the difficulty the federal courts have in making decisions,” said Elizabeth D. Clark, senior counsel for the Center on Immigration and Resettlement at the Center.
Some of those localities have said they would welcome immigrants who would like to apply to work in their communities.
Others have said that they would prefer to receive people who are already living in the U.S. to begin with.
Some immigration advocates say the state of Texas and Florida have had their processes for processing immigrants and are now looking to other states.
“If they are really going to go in and put on a little bit of a show, they would have to start moving the needle on this,” said Lofren.
“This is not something that has been done in 20 years.”
Follow AP immigration reporter Jules Edwards at twitter.com/julesedwards.
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