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Number of immigration measures passed by U.S. states jumps in 2013: report

The Statue of Liberty is seen during its reopening to the public in New York July 4, 2013. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
The Statue of Liberty is seen during its reopening to the public in New York July 4, 2013. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

By Lisa Maria Garza

(Reuters) - The number of immigration-related laws passed by U.S. states rebounded sharply in the first half of this year, spurred in part by a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration crackdown, according to a report released Wednesday.

The National Conference of State Legislatures said lawmakers in 43 states and the District of Columbia enacted 146 laws and 231 resolutions related to immigration, an 83 percent increase from the 206 laws and resolutions enacted in first half 2012.

The surge followed a decision by the Supreme Court in June last year that supported the 2010 Arizona immigration law's most controversial aspect - requiring police to check the immigration status of people they stop. The ruling tossed three of the law's other provisions.

Also contributing to the increase was the government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program last year that granted temporary legal status to some young undocumented immigrants, the report said.

"The U.S. Supreme Court decision and DACA policy seemed to spur states back into action in 2013," the National Conference of State Legislatures noted in a news release.

Laws on identification documents topped the activity, with 20 states passing 34 measures. Many defined eligibility for state-issued identification and driver's licenses, the report said.

After the DACA program, lawmakers in 14 states enacted laws that allowed undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition.

Other laws passed by states included authorizing funds for immigration enforcement, English language and citizenship classes, and migrant and refugee programs, the report said.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Mohammad Zargham)