Strange Neighbors: The Role of States in Immigration Policy

Strange Neighbors: The Role of States in Immigration Policy

Strange Neighbors: The Role of States in Immigration Policy

Strange Neighbors: The Role of States in Immigration Policy

Synopsis

Since its founding, the U.S. has struggled with issues of federalism and states' rights. In almost every area of law, from abortion to zoning, conflicts arise between the states and the federal government over which entity is best suited to create and enforce laws. In the last decade, immigration has been on the front lines of this debate, with states such as Arizona taking an extremely assertive role in policing immigrants within their borders. While Arizona and its notorious SB 1070 is the most visible example of states claiming expanded responsibility to make and enforce immigration law, it is far from alone. An ordinance in Hazelton, Pennsylvania prohibited landlords from renting to the undocumented. Several states have introduced legislation to deny citizenship to babies who are born to parents who are in the United States without authorization. Other states have also enacted legislation aimed at driving out unauthorized migrants.

Strange Neighbors explores the complicated and complicating role of the states in immigration policy and enforcement, including voices from both sides of the debate. While many contributors point to the dangers inherent in state regulation of immigration policy, at least two support it, while others offer empirically-based examinations of state efforts to regulate immigration within their borders, pointing to wide, state-by-state disparities in locally-administered immigration policies and laws. Ultimately, the book offers an extremely timely, thorough, and spirited discussion on an issue that will continue to dominate state and federal legislatures for years to come.

Excerpt

In 2010, Arizona ignited a national controversy over state regulation of immigration. It did so by enacting S.B. 1070, a statute through which Arizona tried to encourage undocumented immigrants to “selfdeport”—i.e., voluntarily leave the state—by creating an inhospitable environment. While S.B. 1070 captured the nation’s attention, it was not the first state effort, or indeed the first effort in Arizona, to influence immigration policy or enforcement. In the five years leading up to S.B. 1070, various state legislatures introduced thousands of immigration bills and enacted hundreds. Arizona in particular had previously enacted several immigration-related measures, including an initiative requiring that undocumented noncitizens arrested for crimes be held without bail, a law denying them state benefits, and a law revoking the business licenses of Arizona employers who hired undocumented workers.

In addition to drawing public attention to the increasingly active role of states in immigration, S.B. 1070 also spawned copycat legislation in a number of other states. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah enacted similar laws in 2011. And a number of states introduced other omnibus immigration enforcement bills in 2012. These state laws seek to restrict the number of undocumented immigrants in their states. Because direct efforts to regulate immigration have been deemed unconstitutional, the states seek to accomplish this restriction indirectly, such as by making it more difficult to obtain employment or by creating state crimes for failure to comply with federal immigration requirements. Some state efforts also appear designed to place pressure on the federal government to increase immigration enforcement efforts by, for example, increasing the number of requests for immigration . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.