Global Cities and Immigrants

A Comparative Study of Chicago and Madrid

by Francisco Velasco Caballero (Volume editor) María de los Angeles Torres (Volume editor)
©2015 Textbook VIII, 294 Pages


Global Cities and Immigrants provides a detailed set of comparative case studies of the immigration policies of two global cities undergoing dramatic demographic changes. At the heart of this research are several theoretical questions. One is about the increased importance of municipal and local governments in a globalized world, particularly regarding immigrants. As the world globalizes and national governments attempt to tighten their grip, the failure of national policies to address the needs of new global situations encourages local governments to develop policies that resolve these new conditions. Although immigration is a federal policy in the United States and Spain, city and state governments have increasingly played a role in shaping both the enforcement of national laws and integration experiences of immigrants. This creates a local politics and indeed a legality of immigration that is strongly shaped by local views of economic, political, and security interests, as well as differing perceptions of immigrants’ rights and place in the polity.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Notes on the Comparative Context
  • National and Local Governments
  • Who Belongs
  • Place of the States In Society’s Well-Being
  • Outline of the Book
  • References
  • Part One
  • Chapter One: Immigration Federalism and Local Regulation in the United States
  • Introduction
  • Localism and Immigration
  • A Tradition of Localism
  • The Localism Component of Immigration Regulation
  • The Allocation of Power Over Immigration in the U.S. Federal System
  • Federal Powers
  • State Sovereignty
  • Potential Federal-State-Local Conflict
  • The Space For Local Immigration Regulation
  • Direct Local Regulation
  • Indirect Regulations
  • Neutral Laws
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Chapter Two: Can There Be a Local Immigration Policy?
  • Overview
  • Levels of Government and Immigration Policies
  • Local Competencies on Immigration
  • Universal Competency Clause
  • Local Complementary Competency
  • Sectoral Competencies
  • Limits and Determining Factors in the Exercise of Local Competencies
  • European, State, and Regional Regulation
  • Financial Conditionings
  • Cooperation as a Limit
  • Local Actions and Competencies in Immigration
  • Administrative Policies of Migratory Flows
  • Promotion of Coexistence
  • Involvement in Politics
  • Prevention and Remediation of Social Exclusion
  • Education
  • Local Land-Use Control
  • Housing
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Comparative Notes on Local Government Involvement in Immigration
  • Part Two
  • Chapter Three: Overview of the Rights of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States
  • Introduction
  • Rights With Respect To Immigration
  • Basic Rights
  • Unauthorized Immigrants Have the Right To Go Into Court To Seek Redress of Wrongs
  • Unauthorized Immigrants Have the Same Rights As Others When Accused of a Crime
  • Public Benefits
  • Unauthorized Immigrants Have Access To Publicly Funded Emergency Medical Care
  • Unauthorized Immigrants are Generally Not Eligible To Obtain Driver’s Licenses
  • Education
  • The Equal Protection Clause Affords Unauthorized Immigrant Children the Right To Attend Public Primary and Secondary Schools
  • Unauthorized Immigrants in Most Instances Have Access To Public Higher Education, But on Generally Less Favorable Terms Than Others
  • Workplace Rights
  • Hoffman Plastic Held Unauthorized Immigrant May Not Be Awarded Back Pay Under the Nlra
  • Worker’s Compensation Laws That Provide Disability Payments and Other Benefits To Workers Who are Injured on the Job Also Protect Unauthorized Immigrants
  • Unauthorized Immigrants Have the Right To Be Paid the Legally Mandated Wages For Work Done
  • Unauthorized Immigrants Have No Right To Unemployment Insurance
  • Conclusion: in the Foreseeable Future, the Rights of Unauthorized Immigrants Will Expand Or Contract By Small Steps
  • Notes
  • Chapter Four: Legal Status of Immigrants: Rights For Illegal Immigrants?
  • Introduction
  • The Constitution and the Rights of Unauthorized Immigrants
  • Statutes of Autonomy and the Rights of Unauthorized Immigrants
  • The Failed Statutory Attempt To Guarantee Equal Access To Social Rights For All People
  • Jcc 31/2010: the Impossibility That Statutes Extend the Entitlement To Rights To Aliens
  • Legislation and the Rights of Unauthorized Immigrants
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Comparative Notes on the Rights of Unauthorized Aliens
  • Part Three
  • Chapter Five: Local Autonomy From the Burdens of National Sovereignty: A Case Study of Local Immigration Policies in the City of Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois
  • Introduction
  • Chicago Becomes a Sanctuary City
  • Cook County
  • State of Illinois
  • Incorporation/Empowerment
  • Health
  • Labor
  • Education
  • Driver’s Licenses
  • Conclusions
  • Notes
  • References
  • News Reports
  • Press Releases
  • Reports and Audits
  • Chapter Six: Immigration Control and Policies of Integration of Immigrants At a Local Level
  • Participation of Municipalities in Administrative Procedures of Immigration Control
  • Reports on Social Rooting in Order To Obtain a Temporary Residence Permit
  • Reports on the Efforts of Integration For the Renewal of Temporary Residence Permits
  • Reports on the Adequacy of Housing For the Exercise of the Right To Family Reunification
  • Conclusion
  • Delimitation of the Local Population Through Registration in the Municipal Census
  • Irregular Immigration Control By the Local Police
  • Identification of Foreign Nationals Based on Racial Or Ethnic Profiles
  • The Constitutional Court’s Doctrine
  • A Critical View on the Constitutional Case Law
  • Police Access To the Data of the Municipal Census
  • Immigrant Integration Policies At a Local Level
  • References
  • Comparative Notes on the Role of Local Government in the Enforcement of Migratory Law
  • Part Four
  • Chapter Seven: Immigrant Education Policies in the Chicago Metropolitan Area
  • The Chicago Metropolitan Area and Its School Districts
  • Federal Policies Affecting Immigrant Students
  • State Policy Affecting Immigrant Students
  • District Policy Affecting Immigrant Students
  • School Budgets
  • School Segregation
  • Tracking
  • District and School Administration
  • Teachers
  • Bilingual Programs
  • Parental Involvement
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter Eight: Immigrant Minors’ Integration and Social Cohesion Policies Through the School
  • Preface
  • School and Fundamental Rights of Immigrants: State Legislation and High Courts’ Rulings
  • All Immigrant Minors Have the Right To Education (Article 27[1] Ce in Relation To Article 27[4] Ce) in Equal Conditions As Spanish Nationals
  • Other Rights Within the Duties of the State As a Provider and Fundamental Rights in the School Context
  • Aims of Education (Article 27[2] Ce) and the Two Concepts “School and Immigration”
  • School and Immigrants’ Integration: the Regional Administration As a Decisive Factor
  • Defining School Districts (Article 86 Loe) and the Importance of the Domicile As a Criterion For Admission in Schools (Article 84[2] Loe)
  • Setting Immigrant Students Quotas (Article 87 Loe)
  • The “Madrid: Single School District” Project From the Perspective of Immigrant Minors’ Integration and Social Cohesion
  • Recapitulation
  • School, Immigrants’ Integration and Municipalities: Municipal Cooperation in Order To Create the Physical and Material Conditions To Prevent Segregation
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Comparative Notes on Integration Policies in Schools For Immigrant Children
  • Note
  • Part Five
  • Chapter Nine: Mexican Migrant Civic Engagement in Chicago
  • Demographic Profile and Naturalization Trends
  • Block Clubs and Local School Councils
  • Faith-Based Latino Migrant Civic Engagement
  • Unions and Independent Worker Centers
  • Migrant-Led Hometown Associations
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter Ten: Immigrant Associations and Local Politics in Madrid
  • Introduction
  • The Institutional Offer For Participation
  • The Call From Central Institutions For the Promotion of Immigrant Participation in Local Life
  • The Offer To Participate in the City of Madrid
  • The Associations
  • The Associational Fabric of Immigrants
  • The Context: the Presence of a Population of Foreign Origin in Madrid
  • The Immigrant Associations in Madrid
  • The Mechanisms Employed By the Associations For Public Dialogue
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Chapter Eleven: Democracy and Immigration in Spain
  • The Spanish Constitution
  • The Problems Raised By the Reciprocity Clause of Article 13.2 Sc
  • Criticism From Legal Scholars To the Current System Used To Acknowledge a Right of Suffrage in Favor of Foreigners
  • The Effects of Nationality Regulations on the Matter At Hand
  • Political Parties and Immigrant Votes
  • The 2011 Municipal Elections
  • The Reason For a Low Participation of Foreigners With a Right To Vote
  • Other Forms of Immigrant Political Participation At a Local Level
  • References
  • Comparative Notes on Political Participation of Immigrants in the United States and Spain
  • Final Comments: National Differences, Local Similarities
  • Contributors


← VII | 1 → Introduction

Globalization has accelerated the movement of people across political borders, as economic restructuring has made cities and their metro areas into depositories of the majority of these global migrant groups. In many cities, including ours, immigrants are the motor of economic development and civic rejuvenation—even as they are politically shunned and denied legal citizenship and its protections across the globe and the nation. Indeed, immigration has provoked heated debates across the world as nations are also facing economic decline and political crises. Intellectually, many of the ideas that frame the debate around immigration predate globalization to a time when nation-states defined economies, politics, and, in many cases, culture.

One articulation of this debate—contested by the case studies in this book—is that federal governments should control immigration matters. The claim is that enforcement policies are the right of federal governments and a consequence of dividing humanity along nation-states. Deportation law and policy are performances of sovereign authority, meaning that they are vast spectacles through which authority establishes its reign (De Genova & Peutz, 2010). In the United States alone, over 1.3 million undocumented immigrants have been deported in the last two years. Certainly, these large numbers of transnational migrants bring into sharp conflict questions of national border security, as well as the rights of people on the move. In many cases, national policies have responded more to security concerns than the rights of immigrants—even when their policies have ← 1 | 2 → run contrary to the economic interests of regional and local governments—raising questions about the nature of democracy itself (Honig, 2001).

At the heart of this book are several theoretical questions. One is about the increased importance of municipal and local governments in a globalized world, particularly regarding immigrants. As the world globalizes and national governments attempt to tighten their grips, the failure of national policies to address the needs of new global situations encourages local governments to develop policies that resolve these new conditions. Is the place of municipal governments—especially concerning what has traditionally been in the realm of national governments—changing? What are the social forces that have influenced this (Ramakrishnan & Wong, 2007)? And what does this suggest about the limits of national governments in regard to new global change?

Immigrants, particularly the undocumented, live in contradictory spaces defined by hostile national governments and more friendly local governments—at least in large global cities. For democratic countries in which notions of citizenship are deeply embedded in the nation-state, this creates a new conflict in which political and social rights are guaranteed locally but not nationally. This also raises the question about rights and what these look like in local settings. Can we envision a form of local citizenship (Guarnizo, 2012; Villazor, 2010)? Are local and regional governments the places for democratic action?

In the United States and Spain—while immigration is a federal policy on paper—city and state governments have increasingly played a role in shaping both the enforcement and integration experiences of immigrants. This creates a local politics of immigration that is strongly shaped by local views of economic, political, and security interests, as well as differing perceptions of immigrants’ rights and place in the polity (Wells, 2004). These policies are not explicitly about immigration, but rather an array of issues ranging from issuance of driver’s licenses or permits to the provision of educational benefits. They are also instances in which local governments refuse to enforce federal laws (Newton & Adams, 2009), even as national governments increasingly rely on them to do so (Booth, 2006). There may be a host of factors that influence the outcome of local immigration policies, from the location of fiscal policies (Boushey & Luedtke, 2006) to the presence of immigrants and the ideologies of particular regions (Chavez & Provine, 2009). Likewise, it is important to note that it is usually in large urban areas where local governments have developed policies and practices that run contrary to the national impulse to exercise sovereignty through a hard line against immigrants. Local governments have felt compelled to protect and create safe zones and policies that encourage positive incorporation of immigrants (Bilke, 2009). In contrast, restrictionist policies have been more prevalent in smaller towns (Gilbert, 2009) and in areas without the presence of large global cities, where, in fact, the state and local policies have become more punitive than the federal government. ← 2 | 3 → All of this suggests that the process of globalization and urbanization may be at play in influencing this debate and what, in effect, is the blurring of foreign and domestic policy roles for different levels of government (Herbert, 2009).

Those positive, localized strategic policy moves and their consequences on the lives of people are what we wish to analyze here in order to begin developing and understanding the dynamics of how these policies came to be and what they tell us about spatial changes of political units and notions of citizenship in a global world. This autonomy from federal policy, however, should not be viewed as something easily achievable or unproblematic. It has involved years of organizing and advocacy work, and has led to conflicts and struggle—some of which remain as yet unresolved—among the federal and local governments and local public officials. Moreover, in contrast to some European countries that do provide resources for undocumented immigrants, there are no federal public funds in the United States that are specifically earmarked for undocumented immigrants. This means that debates over local enforcement and integration policies—even in cases inclusive of all immigrants—cannot escape broad international debates about undocumented immigrants’ rights to access resources and remain in this country. This leaves local governments to be mediators and, at times, even determinants of incorporation and enforcement policies that affect undocumented immigrants (Vanderkooy & Nawyn, 2011).

In the face of national inaction on this pressing issue, research on the role and place of local governments pertaining to immigration policies can shed light on alternatives (Varsanyi, 2010). While the debate is at a standstill at the national level, parallel efforts of incorporation and enforcement, or restriction, at the local level point to different models, visions, and opportunities. Many of these have already been set in motion and can provide a basis for novel ways of thinking about immigration policy, personhood, citizenship, and belonging in a comparative context. To the best of our knowledge, this sort of comparative mapping of the multi-national and local deportation/incorporation landscape has not been previously attempted.


In this comparative project, we have brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to examine the ways in which two global regions confront the dilemmas faced by local governments as they try to incorporate new residents—while their respective national governments demand increased vigilance against immigrants. In the early 1990s, scholars comparing national immigration policies of industrialized, immigrant-receiving countries seemed to converge in the notion that there was a need for stricter immigration policies (Cornelius, Tsuda, Martin, & Hollifield, 2004). Today, we still find this to be the case and, furthermore, there may be similar responses at the local level. Our study focuses on two global cities ← 3 | 4 → with similar national contexts. Chicago and Madrid represent cities that have received a large influx of immigrants in the last two decades—Chicago mainly from Mexico and other Latin American countries, and Madrid from African and, increasingly, Asian countries. In both cities, not all immigrants maintain legal statuses. Both are cities that have a tradition of incorporating immigrants, and as such, we think that studying their practices sheds light on the larger comparative perspectives about each nation-state and contributes to an understanding of good practices in global cities. They are also dissimilar, providing room to understand how historical and cultural contexts may influence the ways immigrants are thought of in differing spaces.

National and Local Governments

Both the United States and Spain have a centralized authority in charge of enforcing immigration laws, including deportations. However, there are important differences—as there are in other countries (Ellermann, 2009)—which should be noted from the start. In most countries, the amount of leeway that local governments have in regard to immigration is a matter of law. Because of federalist tradition in the United States, local governments have more autonomy. In contrast, the centralized government of Spain has more defined authority. Additionally, there are marked differences between the two countries in the structure and distribution of legal authority over immigration matters. Indeed, part of the comparative process of this collection was coming to an understanding of what local governments were in each country. In the United States, we decided on all governments outside the federal government—given the diversity and different levels of power that municipal, county, and state governments have—whereas, in Spain, the main emphasis is on municipal government.

Despite its strong centralized authority, Spain has an interesting politico-cultural phenomenon at play in terms of limiting that central authority, which effectively creates a certain degree of leeway for local governments. That is, there is an explicit appreciation that central government needs to be kept in check. The new democracy demands that each level of government remain within its boundaries—especially the national government—as centralization of power can threaten the young democracy. Local autonomy in the United States is deeply embedded in the structure of its political apparatus, which may have also, historically, come from national suspicion of central authority during its own democratic origination centuries ago.

Who Belongs

There are also very different notions of who belongs in society, and how belonging is culturally and legally defined (Kristeva, 1991). The United States has a long ← 4 | 5 → historical narrative of being an immigrant nation, even as newcomers have historically faced marginalization and racialization. Fear-driven, public debates have concluded in programs that reject newcomers. But parallel to these actions, there has been social mobilization on behalf of newcomers that has engendered a politics of identity. A movement that demands equality and fairness, and has—in the last thirty years—resulted in periodic legalization projects. Spain, however, does not have a long history of immigration, though there are historical moments of rejecting groups of people based on religion and nationality. Contrary to the United States, fear-driven debate about immigrants in Spain has, in fact, resulted in programs to bring them into the national cultural landscape and out from the shadows.

Identity politics is not necessarily a language deployed in Spain to the same extent that it is in the United States. Related to notions of belonging are legal processes though which newcomers can become citizens. Terms used to describe, for instance, undocumented immigrants suggest different approaches. In the United States, “illegal alien” is the technical term for an immigrant without papers, suggesting a transgression. In Spain, they are called “irregulars,” perhaps suggesting bureaucratic adjustments.

Another significant difference is that Spain has a long tradition of granting local membership to newcomers. Rooted in feudal times, municipalities require that residents register. Known as the “apadronamiento,” this process grants certain rights to, demands certain responsibilities of, and, most importantly, “documents” the individual.

There are also important differences in how long it takes someone to be “arraigado,” or rooted. In the United States, longevity is not a means to belonging, rather it is a legal process. (Cubans are an exception which is codified in the Cuban Adjustment Act.) In Spain, if someone has been in the country for at least three years—whether they are “regular” or not—they have a shot at remaining.

There are also important considerations in terms of family units. Although the United States did incorporate family unity as an important factor in granting residency to individuals in 1965, this principle has eroded. While family unity remains a major pathway for immigrants to come to the United States and gain lawful status, the federal government has also deported record numbers of immigrants, including parents of thousands of U.S.-citizen children, effectively ignoring family unity in immigration policy.

Place of the States in Society’s Well-Being

An important difference between Spain and the United States that affects the outcome of immigrant incorporation is the appreciation of the place of the state in the welfare of people. Unlike European countries, the United States has a much leaner ← 5 | 6 → welfare state. While equality for all is a social narrative, it is not the role of the state to guarantee the outcome, but instead to only guarantee a fair process. Non-profit organizations and religious institutions fill this role, though government agencies fund many of their programs. Spain has a more generous notion of the responsibility of the state towards the most vulnerable populations, and immigrants have generally fallen into this category. As such, immigration debates in Spain tend to revolve around where to cut spending, whereas the United States argues about denying benefits altogether.

One exception to this is education, which has been guaranteed in both countries, although, in the United States, education is only guaranteed through high school—except when an individual state passes legislation specifically expanding higher education benefits to undocumented students.


How these different legal, political, and social traditions regarding immigrants play out in two global cities is the main concentration of this book. The book will provide a U.S. and Spanish comparative national perspective on the relationship between local and national governments where immigration policies are concerned, as well as provide the legal context of the rights of immigrants in both countries. Within this framework, several case studies will look specifically at how local governments have dealt with incorporation and enforcement policies, education, and political and civic participation in each region. The first two parts of the book describe the legal framework which outlines the autonomy local governments may have in regard to immigration policy and looks at the rights of immigrants. Subsequent parts will include a case study from each city and culminate with a comparative discussion of the case studies.

In Part One, the question addressed is: can local governments have immigration policies? Laurie Reynolds and Francisco Velasco Caballero trace the legalities of local governments and the legal histories that have allowed these government levels to have immigration policies. In Part Two, Matthew Kuenning and Tomás de la Quadra-Salcedo Janini focus on the legal rights of undocumented immigrants. Part Three analyzes local governments’ role in enforcement of federal policies and in incorporation of new immigrants. Amalia Pallares and Maria de los Angeles Torres look at instances where municipal, county, and state governments have refused to enforce federal policies, and where they have enacted programmatic and legislative initiatives that incorporate immigrants. Silvia Díez Sastre presents similar instances in Madrid. In Part Four, Nilda Flores-Gonzalez and José María Rodríguez de Santiago detail educational opportunities afforded to immigrant children. Lastly, in Part Five, Xóchitl Bada, Carmen Navarro, and Susana Sánchez Ferro look at immigrant civic ← 6 | 7 → and political participation and mobilization, taking into account the legalities that draw the contours therein. The comparative sections contain comparative notes on the chapters. These will be discussed in their entirety in the final reflections.


Bilke, C. (2009). Divided we stand, united we fall: A public policy analysis of sanctuary cities’ role in the “illegal immigration’’ debate. Indiana Law Review, 42(1), 165–194.

Booth, D. (2006). Federalism on ICE: State and local enforcement of federal immigration law. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, 29(3), 1063–1084.

Boushey, G., & Luedtke, A. (2006). Fiscal federalism and the politics of immigration: Centralized and decentralized immigration policies in Canada and the United States. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 8(3), 207–224.

Chavez, J., & Provine, D. (2009). Race and the response of state legislatures to unauthorized immigrants. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 623(1), 78–92.

Cornelius, W. A., Tsuda, T., Martin, P. L., & Hollifield, J. F. (Eds.). (2004). Controlling immigration: A global perspective (2nd ed.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

De Genova, N. & Peutz, N. (2010). The deportation regime: Sovereignty, space and the freedom of movement. Durham: Duke University Press.

Ellermann, A. (2009). States against migrants: Deportation in Germany and the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gilbert, L. (2009). Immigration as local politics: Re-bordering immigration and multiculturalism through deterrence and incapacitation. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(1), 26–42.

Guarnizo, L. E. (2012). The fluid, multi-scalar, and contradictory construction of citizenship. Comparative Urban and Community Research, 10, 11–37.

Herbert, S. (2009). Contemporary geographies of exclusion II: Lessons from Iowa. Progress in Human Geography, 33(6), 825–832.

Honig, B. (2001). Democracy and the foreigner. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


VIII, 294
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (February)
demographic changes globalized world integration polity policy
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 294 pp.

Biographical notes

Francisco Velasco Caballero (Volume editor) María de los Angeles Torres (Volume editor)

Francisco Velasco Caballero is Professor of Administrative Law at the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid. He is former director of the Institute of Local Government at the university and was a lawyer at the Constitutional Court of Spain. María de los Angeles Torres is Executive Director of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research and Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies. She has published extensively on Cuban exiles, Latino political incorporation, and immigration.


Title: Global Cities and Immigrants
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