Louisiana State Immigration Laws
Welcome to FindLaw's page on immigration laws in Louisiana. Awareness of the relationship and tension between state and federal law is essential. This is the case with every area of law. But this tension is often clear when it involves immigration.
The federal government sets many immigration laws. It has a great deal of authority in its administration and enforcement. But, the states also have certain powers in administration and enforcement.
Below you will find information on:
- Law enforcement and immigration in Louisiana
- Employment and immigration
- Louisiana E-Verify requirements
- Driver's license/ID requirements
- Public benefits restrictions
- Education checks
- Voting ID rules
- Housing ordinances and immigration
- Related resources
- Contact an immigration attorney
Knowing your rights is essential whether you're pursuing U.S. citizenship or in any other immigration-related circumstances.
Legal Battles Over Immigration in Louisiana
Unlike more liberal states, such as Connecticut, New York, and Maryland, Louisiana has a history of being less favorable to immigrants. Like many conservative jurisdictions, such as Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, and Arkansas, Louisiana has been more adversarial about migrants' rights.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) restricted migrants' passage into the United States. It did so under a law called Title 42.
Title 42 allows the U.S. government to take emergency action in certain situations, such as preventing the spread of disease. Using Title 42, the CDC suspended the passage of noncitizens into the United States based on the severe public health risks of COVID-19. This included asylum-seekers.
Eventually, the pandemic posed a lower threat to public health. So, the CDC suspended the Title 42 policy. In response, Louisiana and 21 other states filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government.
In the lawsuit, the states argued that suspending Title 42 would cause many problems associated with border-crossings by undocumented migrants to re-emerge, such as:
- Drug trafficking
- Overburdening of state resources
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the CDC had lawfully exercised its authority to suspend usage of Title 42. The DOJ recognized that the pandemic-related threats to public health had subsided.
As a result, Title 42 has ended. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court canceled its planned review of the Trump-era challenges to suspension of Title 42.
In the meantime, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has reverted to using Title 8. Under Title 8, more passages into the United States can take place than when Title 42 was in effect.
Federal immigration authorities typically manage immigration and enforcement. But, local law enforcement officials are starting to assist with immigration issues. They are beginning to investigate or pursue suspected immigration-related offenses.
Under a federal program, authorities run all convicts's names through a federal database. That database checks for immigration violations. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) share this database.
Under federal law, employers should refer to the federal employment eligibility verification rule. Specifically, they should check the requirements for Form I-9.
Louisiana requires that all private companies use E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of new hires. All public employers must do the same.
Louisiana requires those applying for a driver's license or ID to establish their identity and date of birth. They must do so when applying for a Louisiana driver's license. Applicants can use a variety of documents.
Under federal law, immigrants living here illegally can't get public benefits. But they can use emergency services. They can get health care and other programs "necessary to protect life and safety."
Immigrants living here illegally cannot pay in-state tuition rates at state schools. The same applies to DACA recipients.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It protects eligible young adults from deportation after their parents brought them to the United States as children. It also gives these young adults work authorization for limited periods. Those periods of work authorization are renewable.
Louisiana law requires that voters show elected officials a photo ID to cast a vote. This can be a state driver's license, ID card, or other generally recognized forms of ID. If the voter has none, they can bring a utility bill, paycheck, or similar type of document. That document must include the voter's name and address. Without an ID, the voter must sign an affidavit to vote.
Louisiana has no special housing ordinances for immigrants.
- Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants — A nonprofit organization that offers immigrants many immigration and advocacy services. This organization offers more general social services for migrants, as well.
- Legal Aid Louisiana — This nonprofit organization provides free and low-cost legal services to qualifying low-income people needing legal representation.
It can be hard to navigate U.S. immigration on your own. It's important to seek legal assistance if you're struggling through a process in the immigration system. It's essential to know your rights. Whatever your unique set of circumstances, legal advice from a licensed immigration lawyer is an invaluable resource. They can help you work through the following:
- Deportation or removal proceedings
- The naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen
- Change of immigration status
- Appearances before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)
- Going to immigration courts
- Pursuing a T-nonimmigrant visa (a visa for victims of human trafficking)
- Your regular communications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
It doesn't matter which of these or other immigration circumstances you face. Immigration legal services will help you navigate any of these successfully.
Whether you're in New Orleans or elsewhere in the state, it's vital to seek the legal assistance of a licensed immigration attorney. Many immigration law firms have interpreters on staff, as well.
If you can't afford an attorney, contact any of the nonprofit organizations in the state for help finding free or low-cost legal services. If you need referrals for attorneys, contact the Louisiana State Bar Association. It can provide referrals for free.
Undocumented immigrants are a vulnerable community; anyone struggling with a legal problem must find an attorney to help them.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you get the best results possible.