Lobbying at the Montana Legislature
We actively track and lobby against anti-immigrant laws in the Montana legislature. Our coalition of allies have defeated 26 anti-immigrant bills over the last three legislative sessions. Since 2005, over a dozen bills have been sponsored to involve the State of Montana in enforcement of federal immigration laws. Under the Constitution, the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration laws. However, there has been a push by national anti-immigrant groups to bring the states into the business of immigration enforcement.
MIJA opposes state-level enforcement of immigration laws for many reasons:
- Racial profiling: When state police officers who are unfamiliar with immigration laws are being asked to attempt to enforce them, it often leads to racial profiling. Abuses are occurring in Montana.
- No expertise in applying complex federal laws.
- Dangerous crimes won’t be reported: Time after time, studies have shown that reporting of serious crimes go down when communities fear that police will inquire into immigration status and deport friends or family members.
- These policies waste our state’s limited resources on non-dangerous activities that are best left to the federal government.
- Finally, many of these laws are simply unconstitutional, because the usurp a power granted solely to the federal government.
For more detailed information about these laws, please visit our Laws and Policies page, where we provide in depth analysis of the numerous anti-immigrant laws that have been proposed over the years.
Prior to 2007, there were few or no lobbying groups or non-profit entities that were working to educate on the issue of immigration in Montana. However, ally organizations like the Montana Human Rights Network and the ACLU of Montana took the lead in opposing these harmful laws. In the 2009 and 2011 legislative sessions, staff and board members of MIJA joined the battle to testify and fight against these anti-immigrant laws. Our Executive Director, Shahid Haque-Hausrath, has testified at over a dozen hearings of anti-immigrant laws, bringing his legal analysis and perspective to the hearings. In the 2013 legislative session and beyond, MIJA will continue its efforts to combat laws that marginalize migrant communities.