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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 Three: Overview of the Rights of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States


← 64 | 65 → CHAPTER THREE

Overview of the Rights of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States



My questions are very general: what rights do unauthorized immigrants have in the United States? What are the prospects for expanding or decreasing those rights in the future? Most of what follows addresses the first question. I conclude with some brief speculation about the second. Before beginning, I try to clarify the questions by defining my terms.

First, by “rights” I mean any sort of claim, entitlement, or the like, which may be recognized and enforced by courts in the U.S. Thus, I limit the discussion to the law. I won’t be discussing any of the important questions about what is due to unauthorized immigrants as a matter of justice, morality, or principles of human rights that have not been written into law in the U.S. On the other hand, I do not limit the discussion to the constitutional rights of unauthorized immigrants. Any sort of law is good enough to make a right.

Of course having a right is not the same thing as having the power to enforce it. This chapter does not discuss important questions about the degree to which unauthorized immigrants lack the power to enforce what rights they do have. I only assume that unauthorized immigrants are not so powerless as to make idle discussion of their rights....

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