Who Should Manage Immigration - Congress or the States?: An Introduction to Constitutional Immigration Law
17 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2007
Before it became a nation, the United States was comprised of a federation of colonies, each with its own immigration and citizenship laws governing who may enter the colony and under what terms. After the Founding, however, responsibility for citizenship and immigration shifted squarely onto the shoulders of the federal government, and it has resided there ever since. In recent years, many state and local governments have begun to question the immigration policies of Congress and the President, especially given the perceived strain that new arrivals place on both the economy and domestic security. To help us better understand this tension between the national and local governments over noncitizens, this essay explores the development of "constitutional immigration law" by studying the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the proper role of the three branches of the federal government - the President, Congress, and the federal courts - vis-a-vis the inherent police powers of state and local entities to pass and enforce legislation for the common good.
This essay will appear as a book chapter in Rachel Buff, Immigrant Rights in the Shadows of United States Citizenship (NYU Press, forthcoming, 2008).
Keywords: constitutional law, immigration law, US history, immigrant rights
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