Immigration has become a hot-button topic this election season, and no wonder. The number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States has more than tripled in the last 25 years, after two decades of steady rise and a more recent plateau:
Undocumented immigrants make up a significant share of America's parents and workers:
That's especially true in the six states with the highest undocumented populations: California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. The federal government is the usual legislative body responsible for citizenship issues, but thanks in large part to Congressional gridlock, it has struggled to pass immigration reform. Thus, states have taken matters in their own hands. In the last several years, states have enacted nearly 200 new laws having to do with immigrants every year.
Some of these laws are welcoming, while others are restrictive. Some states even feature a combination of undocumented immigrant-friendly and immigrant-unfriendly laws. Check out this map of how states lean on the issue:
Last year, public policy researchers at the University of California–Riverside theorized that because states have done so much of their own immigrant lawmaking, they can end up creating a kind of "state citizenship" (that's very different from national citizenship) for undocumented immigrants. California, in particular, offers a package of rights to unauthorized immigrants that opens up opportunity for them, and their children, to succeed.