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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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Chapter One: Immigration Federalism and Local Regulation in the United States


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Immigration Federalism and Local Regulation in the United States



Over the past decade, local governments have increasingly become a place where policy debates about immigrants and immigration occur. For some cities, the newly arrived have brought vitality, diversity, and economic activity. When the immigrants’ arrivals are seen as a positive force in the community’s development, the local government is likely to find ways to facilitate the integration of the newcomers, unconcerned about whether or not they arrived lawfully in the U.S.1 For other municipalities, in contrast, immigration poses a perceived threat to stability, prosperity, and safety. In those places, regulation is likely to have a decidedly anti-immigrant tone, as local governments seek to use their licensing and general regulatory powers to restrict the presence of immigrants to those who are here lawfully, and to find ways to exclude or to make life difficult for those who are not.2

In addition to these decidedly grassroots, “bottom-up” forces for immigration regulation and control, the impetus for local action has come from the “top down” as well. Because of its pervasive and unchallenged authority to regulate immigration, the federal government, unsurprisingly, has taken some explicit steps to permit, prohibit, encourage, or perhaps even require local involvement with immigration law. In addition, the fifty states, though not possessing broad powers over immigration regulation, do have inherent police power over their...

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