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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 Nine: Mexican Migrant Civic Engagement in Chicago


← 216 | 217 → CHAPTER NINE

Mexican Migrant Civic Engagement in Chicago


Migrant civic engagement among Mexicans in Chicago has increased in the last two decades. Mexican migrant–led grassroots organizations have flourished in many city neighborhoods and throughout the metropolitan area, as the Mexican community keeps moving to western and northern suburbs outside the traditionally inhabited neighborhoods of Little Village, Pilsen, and the south side of Chicago. Mexican migrant-led organizations are not an entirely new phenomenon, however, as Mexican immigrants in greater Chicago formed mutual aid organizations as early as the 1920s (similar to the voluntary associations created by Bohemians, Italians, Jews, Poles, and Germans of the same era) to help new immigrants settle to their new environment by reducing culture shock (e.g., daily companionship in lodge halls, picnics, dances, feast days, burial services, etc.).1

More recently, a few months after the House of Representatives passed the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, millions of Latino and non-Latino immigrants participated in mass mobilizations in more than 200 cities across the U.S. to demand dignity and respect for all undocumented workers. While many observers were caught by surprise at the size and scope of these marches, this mobilization was the result of years of silent organizing by migrant-led grassroots organizations. Mexican migrants answered a call from their churches, unions, worker centers, neighborhood groups, hometown associations,2 sports clubs, Spanish-language...

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