Thursday, June 2, 2011

Immigration Law and the Legitimation of Discrimination

The annual meeting of Law & Society is this week in San Francisco.  Tomorrow, I am on a panel on "Constructing and Dissolving Boundaries: Federalism and Distribution of Powers."  Expect lots of discussion of Arizona's S.B. 1070.  My paper is entitled "Immigration Law and the Legitimation of Discrimination." It is adapted from Kevin R. Johnson, The Racially Disparate Impacts of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 & the Failure of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, ASU Law Journal for Social Justice (2011).  Here it is.   Download Law and society 20112


The panel was lively, interesting, and downright enjoyable, not the way that I ordinarily describe a panel discussion at an academic conference. It included Nestor Davidson (University of Colorado; Fordham fall 2011), Chair and Discussant, and Annie Decker (Yeshiva), Katherine Desormeau and Michael Tan (ACLU), and Justin Steil (Urban Planning Ph.D student, Columbia).  Each offered fascinating – and deep -- insights into the legal and other complexities of state and local efforts to regulate immigration.

From an immigrant advocates’ perspective, Desormeau and Tan critically analyzed the Secure Communities program championed by the Obama administration; the program requires local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  From very different methodological approaches, Decker (Law) and Steil (Urban Planning) offered thoughtful analysis about the reasons for the local responses -- both inclusive and exclusive -- toward emerging immigrant communities.  My contribution focused on the importance of civil rights concerns of immigrants to the debate over the relative allocation of power between federal and state/local governments in immigration.

As Chair of the panel, Professor Davidson posed provocative and thoughtful questions to each of the panelists.  Last but not least, the audience participated as well with many questions and comments.


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