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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 Two: Can There Be a Local Immigration Policy?


← 34 | 35 → CHAPTER TWO

Can There Be a Local Immigration Policy?



Are local immigration policies possible in Spain? Answering this question from a legal perspective requires a determination as to whether Spanish local governments (primarily municipal and regional) have constitutional or statutory powers to undertake immigration regulation. In Spain, this question is particularly significant, because of the formal relevance of the concept of competencies within the multi-level system of governmental power established by the 1978 Constitution. In principle, in Spain, every political subdivision receives a specific sphere of power (i.e. competency) that must be respected by all other government entities. This principle appears to be particularly strict when it comes to the distribution of competencies between the central state and regional levels of government (Comunidades Autónomas, or autonomous communities). With regard to municipal government competencies, however, the delineation is more flexible and fluid. This appears to be the case, although Article 137 of the Constitution (CE) provides a vague guarantee of “local autonomy,” because the specific local competencies (i.e. their spheres of power) are established by the laws of the national government and of the different autonomous communities.

In any case, once a local competency has been established, either by national or regional laws, its exercise must be strictly respected by all other government units. In my view, this basic description of local competencies in Spain does not ← 35...

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