Thursday, September 5, 2013
Earlier this week, ImmigrationProf ran Steve Bender's commentary on Professor Rick Su's provocative article "Immigration as Urban Policy." Here is my commentary on Professor Su's article, entitled "Immigration as National Civil Rights Policy." See Download Immigration as National Civil Rights Policy
Here is the introduction:
Part of a provocative immigration symposium with an array of leading U.S. immigration scholars, Rick Su’s article Immigration as Urban Policy is premised on the sensible claim that immigration to the United States has had a dramatic effect on the nation’s urban development and its regional and local economies. Who could disagree? From coast to coast, New York to Los Angeles, Seattle to Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul to San Antonio, immigration has shaped, transformed, and revitalized our cities from the founding of the republic to the present.
Contrary to Professor Su’s suggestion, however, immigration’s impacts are not limited to American cities. Nor is immigration only about “urban policy.” Immigration indeed affects virtually everything and anything in American social life, far beyond urban areas. Indeed, it is uncontestable that immigration touches on virtually every aspect of law and policy in the United States.
For a variety of reasons, I am considerably more circumspect than Professor Su about extrapolating from immigration’s regional and local impacts to concluding that regional and local involvement in the regulation of immigration and formulating U.S. immigration policy makes sense. Fearful of the negative impacts on the rights of immigrants and other minorities by state and local immigration laws influenced by nativist sentiments, I advocate more carefully calibrated national regulation by the federal government. In essence, national immigration law and policymaking – and enforcement – is more insulated from the nativist, at times racist, impulses that can dominate at the local levels, something that the history of Jim Crow in the post-civil war South teaches all too well. In many respects, such impulses unfortunately have shaped state and local efforts at immigration regulation in the twenty-first century.
Tomorrow, we will post Professor Su's response.