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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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Comparative Notes on Political Participation of Immigrants in the United States and Spain



Political participation is essential to democracy. Traditionally, political rights were linked to nationality. However, the migratory phenomenon has led to certain changes. Political participation of immigrants in their host country is fundamental for their social integration. Naturalization of immigrants has increased in the U.S. and Spain, but naturalization alone is not enough to achieve this aim of social integration. On the one hand, it is not always easy to acquire the nationality of the host country. In Spain, for example, the law requires ten year’s, residence and foreigners must waive their nationality of origin (save nationals of Latin American countries and nationals of other countries with a special link to Spain, who may acquire the Spanish nationality after two years’ residence without losing their own nationality). On the other hand, as the work of Bada reflects, naturalization alone is not enough to trigger civic engagement and political participation.

There is a consensus in the three preceding chapters that the intensity of the link between foreigners and their social network is an essential element when it comes to the political participation of immigrants. The social and political context of the host country also plays an important role in this issue. In Spain, for example, some foreigners have been given the right to vote and the right of passive suffrage in local...

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