Government Control Over Immigration Policy

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In the first century of the U.S., the state governments primarily handled issues of immigration, since the federal government did not possess much power. Over time, as the federal government has become more powerful, the boundaries of federalism have shifted in such a way as to give the illusion that the federal government predominantly presides over immigration policy. However, state governments currently hold a greater portion of control over immigration policy than the federal government. State governments, and even local governments, have various powers over immigration policy, and some are currently attempting to bypass federal policy or even usurp federal law to gain further control. This process of the states regaining control over immigration…show more content…
This may explain why the states have recently “engaged in unprecedented levels of immigration policy-making” (Boushey & Luedtke, 393). The recent attitudes towards immigrants, especially since the attacks of 9/11, have been dismal at best and aggressive at worst. Boushey and Luedtke argue that in the general public of the U.S., immigrants are perceived as potential threats to national security. However, studies show that the longer a culture is exposed to immigrants, the fear is reduced and a stable, accepting society will eventually be produced (Boushey & Luedtke, 396). Regardless of whether or not the threat of terrorism in the U.S. is actually rising, the public opinion of immigrants is forcing the state governments to become more involved in immigration policy. Perhaps, then, this toxic culture is influencing the state governments to oppose immigrants, but in the future – if or when a stable society is reached – public opinion will convince the state governments to be more accepting of…show more content…
Hagedorn reveals that in 1994, six states with the highest immigrant populations in the U.S. filed for reimbursement from the federal government, claiming that the high numbers of illegal immigrants residing in those states had a negative economic impact on the state as a whole. The federal government responded by saying that reimbursing the states may actually encourage illegal immigration, and any states helping the immigrants financially do so voluntarily and at their own risk (Hagedorn, 272-3). This situation flips the previous dilemmas around – the federal government actually left the state governments to deal with immigration on their own here, and offered no help. Unfortunately, this leaves the states in a very difficult position – allowing the undocumented immigrants to remain in the state poses the threat of crippling the state financially, but forcibly removing the immigrants from their homes would have an impact on general citizen welfare. Not only were the states stuck in an uncomfortable situation, but also the likelihood of the state governments being able to forcibly remove undocumented immigrants from the state is close to zero. The federal government would declare that either inhumane or unconstitutional. Therefore, it seems that the state governments lacked power in this
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