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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 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


← 116 | 117 → 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



Chicago’s development is closely tied to incoming groups of immigrants from almost every part of the world. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, elected in 2011, has declared that Chicago will become the most immigrant-friendly city in the U.S. Unlike smaller, rural towns and regions in other parts of the U.S., there is a stated recognition of the importance of immigrants’ contributions to the city’s economy and identity.

Immigration has continued to define the essence of Chicago. Since the late 1970s, there has been an increase of immigrants—mainly from Latin America—who have settled in Chicago and its surrounding blue-collar counties. While the federal government has hardened its stance against undocumented immigrants, state policies, as well as municipal and county ordinances, have challenged federal practices that are harmful to the incoming population. Immigrant communities have a long history of mobilizing for city services and, more recently, have been leaders of national immigrant rights movements, including the DREAM Act movement. Chicago’s local governments, as well as the state of Illinois, have been at the forefront in the refusal to collaborate with federal enforcement policies. ← 117 | 118 → They have also taken an...

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