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Global Cities and Immigrants

A Comparative Study of Chicago and Madrid


Edited By Francisco Velasco Caballero and María de los Angeles Torres

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.
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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...

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