Category: Wk 4: Immigration policy federalism

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Pushes ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Ban

Attempting to make good on his campaign promises, Governor Ron DeSantis is encouraging the state senate to pass a bill eliminating sanctuary cities in Florida. The decision has come under fire from civil rights groups saying that the bill would make undocumented immigrants less likely to call and cooperate with police in cases of emergency for fear of deportation, in turn making communities less safe. DeSantis also instructed the state to beginning participating in the 287(g) program, which “allows state and local law enforcement officials to investigate, apprehend, detain and transport undocumented immigrants facing deportation.” The program has been heavily expanded since President Trump took office and 3 counties with the addition of Jacksonville already are  implementing the program. But other cities, like Miami, are pushing back saying there is no need for additional information sharing since there are no local governments that have not reached ICE compliance standards.


Discusion Questions:

Without all counties and states cooperating, is the program doomed to fail?

Do state-level programs produce the most effective immigration policy?


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Pushes ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Ban

How California Laws Meant to Integrate Immigrants Can Open a Backdoor for ICE

I find the implications and unintended consequences of immigration policy fascinating, especially at the state and local levels which are more likely to deal with the nuances of how policies exist in practice. California’s AB 50 from 2013 allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses in an attempt to improve road safety. AB 50 is not necessarily a piece of immigration legislation itself; however, the population it affects are immigrants.  The unintended consequence of AB 50 is that ICE and similar entities can obtain the information — photos, address, etc — from people who have since applied for driver’s licenses. This article features the stories of several undocumented immigrants who applied for licenses under AB 50 and were tracked down by local ICE agents using the information given to the DMV , even though they broke no laws and had established lives and families here.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Are policymakers at the state level responsible for the execution at the local level? Is being responsible for the policy making the same as being held accountable? Will they be held accountable?
  2.  Should the DMV be expected to cooperate if local ICE officials ask for information on immigrants who have broken no laws?
  3. This is an example of policy implications on a local level. What about implications for related policies at the national level (I’m thinking about DACA and DAPA)?

Immigration Debate Looms Large in California Republican’s Re-election Bid

This week we’ve explored the relationship between the public and its representation at the state level. One noteworthy trend is that the partisan alignment of a district predicts votes of its congressperson (Casellas and Leal, 2013). Wong also found, in analysis of interior enforcement bills similar to the IIRIRA’s 287(g) provision, that local Latino and Asian population correlate with decreased support for restrictionist policies (2014). Both findings fit into an overarching message of the week: that the primary goal of representatives is re-election.

Keeping in mind these findings, it would be interesting to examine election and representation dynamics in a highly divided, significantly Hispanic district, where population-based cues are unclear. This article, written about former Congressman Jeff Denham (R) just months before the 2018 elections, highlights some of the difficulties of governing in such a district, and specifically illustrates Denham’s actions on immigration. Denham’s locality (with no clear partisan advantage, and a 40% Hispanic population) made representation difficult, which may have contributed to his centrist position on immigration. In the months before the election, Denham made headlines when he attempted to force the House to vote on several immigration bills via a discharge petition, a move that drew ire from his own party. The motion failed, and the subsequent immigration bill that Denham helped craft stalled. At home, Denham’s opponent accused him of failing his constituents and only voting the party line. This type of response, and Denham’s subsequent electoral loss, may represent yet another reason for continued immigration gridlock.

Discussion question: The new congressman from CA-10, Josh Harder (D), won with 52.3% of the vote. Why might he have an easier or harder time keeping his constituents happy? How might increasing polarization or shifting demographics have portended Denham’s defeat?

Article Citation: CNN, Lauren Fox. “Immigration Debate Looms Large in California Republican’s Re-Election Bid.” CNN. (February 25, 2019).

Should the Social Safety Net Be Extended to Unauthorized Immigrants?

Many scholars have noted the increasing shift of immigration policymaking to subnational actors at the state and local level. This research however, has mainly focused on the cooperation of states with the federal government, whether in enacting restrictionist legislation that has stagnated in Congress (Jones-Correa and de Graauw 2013) or in stepping up enforcement by means of the Section 287(g) of the IIRIRA legislation or the subsequent SAFE Act (Wong 2014).  Less focus has been given, however, to the states and municipalities that have resisted the efforts of the federal government in pursuing more permissive policies. Nevertheless, this phenomenon has received much media attention, especially since the election of President Donald Trump along with his administration’s increased efforts at interior enforcement.

This article examines two places that have made efforts to expand the legal benefits and social services available to undocumented immigrants, namely New York City and California. The article questions whether these new policies, that will inevitably cost taxpayer dollars, may actually lead to a backlash among swing voters and spur a new shift toward restrictionism. Salam argues that moderates who were on board with benevolent or even progressive immigration policies may change their minds when they start paying the price to subsidize indolence within the immigrant population. While far from a sure thing, it is worth considering this dimension of immigration politics, in which progressive local governments must carefully walk the line of supporting hardworking and virtuous immigrants without alienating their equally hardworking and deserving native-born constituents.


Discussion Questions:

What responsibility to states and municipalities have toward their unauthorized immigrant populations? How should elected officials balance good intentions with their need to maintain electoral coalitions?


Article Citation:

Salam, Reihan. “Bill de Blasio and Gavin Newsom May Give Restrictionism New Life.” The Atlantic, January 14, 2019.

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