Immigration In Kentucky poliicy analysis



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The population in Kentucky increased by more than ten percent in a period of ten years- that isbetween 2000 and 1990. This translated to an increase in the population with about 350,000 people. The census bureau identified Spencer County as the fastest growing county in the Kentucky state with an increase of about 73 percent between the same periods. According to the argument of the Census Bureau, trends in the future include at least a 16 percent increase in the population of the state leading to about 4.3 million people by the end of 2025. In addition to this, indicators of demography and population indicate that the state, although not yet having an explosive population growth as compared to other southern states, is following in the same path with an estimation of an increase in population of about 45 percent by the end of 2030. Experts in demographics have argued that the strains in the community will not be better with such remarkable increases in population. Without a doubt, concerns will arise concerning the implications such increases in population could have on water supply and the infrastructure system of state(US Census Bureau, 2000).

The USCIS projects that,with a rise of 150 percent, 15,000 illegal immigrants lived in the state as of 2000. As it is, the Kentucky continues to draw more illegal immigrants to the state every fall and spring as illegal immigrants move to the state to take advantage of the increase in job opportunities that come with the season of harvesting and planting crops. Many of the individuals who enter the state illegally end up living in houses that are either overcrowded or substandard, as most of them cannot afford the proper housing conditions with their wages. In the year 1999, the state demanded 643,000 dollars as compensation towards the illegal immigrants’ incarceration from the federal government(Massey& Espinosa, 1997). However, the state’s taxpayers ended up paying much of this amount as the federal government only paid part of it, about 248,000 dollars. As a result of this increase in population through immigration, Kentucky has come up with a number of policies aimed at checking its immigration trends. This paper, therefore, is going to look at these policies and analyze how the state is implementing the policies and the implications they are having on the state(Links to: Federal & State Agencies: Advocacy & Research).

The General Assembly that convened in 2000 adopted the HCR 53, requiring the staff of the Legislative Research Commission to research on the effects of immigration on the private and public sectors of Commonwealth. It is from the results of this study that we get to know that Kentucky experienced a bloom in population just like the other states in the US through immigration in the past ten years. However, when compared to the other states and the rest of the nation, the census indicated that the immigrants comprised only a small part of thepopulation. The report indicated that only was the legal migrants constitutedabout 2.5 percent of the population, compared to about 10 percent of the same individuals in the US. Information from various sources indicates that the total number of immigrants who are undocumented, and especially those from Latin America, increased significantly during the past five years. According to the results of the report of the study that we earlier mentioned, the researchers made the following conclusions(Anderson, et al., 2002).

The study found out that the legal immigrant population of the state had grown three times since 1990, but it remains small at 2.5 percent of the whole population. The study also found that the legal immigrants were on average younger than the native Kentucky citizens were. In addition to this, the study indicated that the legal migrants from Latin American countriescomprised about 11 percent of the whole population of the legal migrants in the 1990s. Further, legal migrants to Kentucky in the past decade had increasingly begun to come from China, Cuba, Vietnam, India and Bosnia. However, the researchers found that the amount of reliable data was not enough on the total number of immigrants who were undocumented. The INS, however, estimates that the number is about 6,000 the organization acknowledges that it might be small than the real figure(Anderson, et al., 2002).

Another conclusion that the study made was that more than a third of the legal population of immigrants to the south participated in jobs that were low paying and those that did not require any special skills or education; however, it was also found that a number of these individuals were highly educated and qualified. Just like the other employers in the rest of the nation, Kentucky employers report utilizing an increasing number of workers from the immigrant population, because they were not able to acquire the services of the native workers at the same wages. Some of the employers who the researchers interviewed indicated that the availability of cheap labor was essential in the sustenance of the business. However, the research that the study looked at did not have indications that cheap labor decreased the wages and employment opportunities for the native workers. Other findings in the study had a lot to do with the period illegal immigrants stay in the state, levels of education in the statethe state of health services and departments in the state, the impacts of immigration on law enforcement and the impact this migration has on various social groups(Anderson, et al., 2002).

As a result, of the issues highlighted above, the Kentucky governing bodies had to establishseveral laws, policies and regulations to check the trend. The developments in immigrant law in 2001 can be put under two specific categories; the post terrorist and pre- terrorist categories. The whole nature of the debate concerning immigration has changed since the terror attacks on US in 2001. These laws and policies have less discussions of liberalizing requirements immigrations and much more attention concerning the assuring of the citizens that immigrants are all participating in activities that are legitimate(Links to: Federal & State Agencies: Advocacy & Research).

Immigration law and policies have changed significantly over the last ten years, and the debate today on the issue indicates essential, additional changes in the years to come. The US congress has passed notable immigration legislation since the 1950s, the year that marked the first ever overturn of the immigration laws in the nation. Since these periods, the nation’s lawmakers have fought with basic concepts concerning migration. Of course, debates have risen regarding the financial contributions this population bring to the US economy; the debate whether these individuals bring to the state more benefits or costs. As it follows, the legislation concerning legislation has reflected the divided situation f the views of most Americans concerning the issue of immigration. Immigration law, thus, is an indication of the continuing tensionbetween the impulse to make the borders of the US tighter and the desire to keep the immigrants coming in, usually to augment the workforce in the nation or the reunite families. However, this debate almost was eliminated with the 2001 September terror attacks, which made it easier for the nation to pass bills that kept aliens out. The thoughts and arguments that this would affect the labor force were pushed to the background as the nation strived to keep its citizens safe(Palloni, Spittel& Ceballos, 1999).

The Kentucky legislature expected the immigration reform to be one of the most critical issues discussed during the first session of the legislature’s meeting. David Williams, president of the Kentucky senate is currently pushing for a bill or proposal that is designed and modeled around the similar, but controversial Arizona law. The proposal of the president will let the immigrants are illegal to be arrested and charged with trespassing if they happen to enter private or public property. The same proposal would require the local law enforcement to control and reduce the status of immigration without this role affecting their other law enforcing duties. David’s proposal is not independent as it is part of a larger agenda he is trying to campaign for and pass during the first few days of the new session, which the legislature usually uses for organizing committees. David is also vying for the republican nomination for the 2011 governor, and most think that this is one of the many reasons why he is so intend and ambitious with this particular agenda. The speaker of the house who is a democrat, Gregory Stumbo argued that the house was not in a hurry to move any bills fast. However, individuals argued that the speaker passed and endorsed legislation that would need the employers and farmers to check the citizenship status of the workers or potential employees, as a way of controlling the entry of immigrants into the country. He argued that if there were lesser jobs in the state then there would be lesser immigrants(Immigration debate begins to heat up in Kentucky).

The other legislature has to do with deporting immigrants who are in the country illegally convicted of serious crimes. Several studies have indicated that up to 75.6 percent of the individuals who the state deported were convicted without having committed a crime or of insignificant crime. There has been increasing criticism over these numbers leading to some states abandoning this initiative recently. The goals of these initiatives are to rid the state of overpopulation and the social challenges that result from overpopulation like substandard living conditions, increased crime rates, unemployment, less job opportunities and low- paying jobs(Immigration to Kentucky). The state and local governments are overseeingimplementation and the funding of some of these policies, with some funding from the federal government. While the implementation of some of these policies has been successful, their feasibility is low, as immigrants contribute a large part of income for the state, and some individuals are reluctant to see it end. The low feasibility is also, as a result, of little or no funding for the projects. The funding has not been adequate to ensure that the initiatives run successfully and efficient(Honeycutt, 2011).

As we highlighted previously, there are two opposing groups debating on the issue. On one side is the group that is disagreeing with the initiative because of the large contributions the population contributes to the country, and the human rights and liberties involved. On the other side is the group that is agreeing with the proposal to kick all the illegal immigrants out of the state citing security, and employment reasons. The Kentucky Council on Churches is one such group that is opposed to the idea of immigrants in the state. The council has shown the issue of immigration as a critical challenge that the government has to deal with and is rallying its members to support its efforts. The council has, as a result, called for national reforms in the state that are comprehensive, and is fighting to have the government establish an appropriate process for earning legislation of persons who are undocumented. Though the church was open to keeping the state as welcoming as possible for the immigrants, it was firm that these immigrants must be documented and legal(The Kentucky Council of Churches).

The debate on the issue has led to a number of disadvantages affecting the initiative. For example, the funding is not sufficient enough as there is no firm supporter of one particular side, the debates have divided votes, and this makes it difficult to retain and acquire donors. In addition,the two- sidedness of the supporters is affecting the issue of administration. As a result, of these challenges, the policy has not been meeting its stated goals, as it was expected.For example, one of the initiatives that were one of the series of policies meant to reduce the number of immigrants entering the state, as a result, of little support and increasing criticism. The initiative was deporting illegal immigrants who the state found to be breaking the law. However, instead of doing this, the initiative opted to deport all of the immigrants it laid its hands on. This earned the implementers of the initiative a lot of criticism, something that led to its discontinuity(Colombo, 2010).

The main barriers to effective management and administration of the initiative include lack of support and lack of sufficient funding. Some individuals feel that kicking out illegal immigrants is an act that violates the rights of immigrants. Individuals disagreeing with the initiative have also argued that kicking all of these immigrants out would have consequential impacts on the economy of the state because these individuals contribute largely to the economy and GPD of the state through labor. Because of these problems, it has been difficult to find willing donors and sources of funds to support the extremely costly initiative. Implementation of the policies would be extremely expensive, and it could affect other areas that need funding like the provision and setting up of better health care centers and housing facilities(Office of the attorney general).

For such a policy to be more effective, the implementers might want to make a few adjustments to the policies. For example, they could earn more support from the citizens by making sure that only individuals who the state has truly convicted of a serious crime are the ones who get deported. They can also make changes that are desirable by making changes to the immigration system based on families to decrease the time of waiting for reunification of families. Further, the state could change the initiative to restore the due process for all immigrants(The Kentucky Council of Churches).


As we have seen above, the issue of immigration has been putting undue pressure on the state of Kentucky for the last ten years. As a result, of this increase in immigration population, the state has come up with policies meant for checking this population and for reducing the undesirable outcomes of the trend. The policies have, however, not been successful in implementing. It would be better if the policies were designed to be more humane as then they would attract more support from the state earning the initiative the support, it needs to acquire funding.



Anderson, L. et al. (2002). Immigration in Kentucky. A preliminary description. Research             Report No. 305. Legislative research Commission.

Colombo, M. (2010). KY senate president proposes controversial immigration law.   retrieved from      proposes-controversial-immigration-law-112683969.html

Honeycutt, V. (2011). Program criticized for deporting non- violent illegal immigrants in   Lexington. Kentucky. Com. Retrieved from

Immigration debate begins to heat up in Kentucky. Ballot News. Retrieved from   

Immigration to Kentucky. The Kentucky Council of Churches. Retrieved from

Immigration to Kentucky. US Migration Support. Retrieved from   

Links to: Federal & State Agencies: Advocacy& Research. National Immigration Law center.       Retrieved from

Massey, D. &. Espinosa, K. (1997). What is Driving Mexico-U.S. Migration? A Theoretical,         Empirical, and Policy Analysis.’American Journal of Sociology 102(4): 939-999.

Palloni, A., Spittel, M. & Ceballos, M. (1999). Using Kin Data to Falsify Social Networking         Hypotheses in Migration. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Population             Association of America.

Office of the attorney general. Attorney General Stumbo issues immigration law alert. retrieved from

US Census bureau. (2000). Current population survey.

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