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Illegal immigration remains an ongoing and controversial socio-political issue. Recently, the problem has escalated to the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Despite the government’s responsibility for finding solutions, political ideologies are causing legislative deadlock. The new administration of the federal government has offered radical solutions that have garnered emotional support but lack practical or effective implementation. In order to find solutions to the illegal immigration crisis, federal agencies must efficiently cooperate with state officials to find balanced and rational solutions that consider border security as well as human rights and economic impact.
Illegal immigration is an intergovernmental issue because it has an impact on federally mandated national interests such as border security, immigration statistics, and population control. Meanwhile, state and local governments are experiencing the direct influence of immigration as their resources, including education and healthcare, are depleted without the compensation of tax payments.
Overall, the consequences of any federal mandate on immigration will be felt by local constituents long before the national social effects. Legislative and judicial conflicts are also involved. Local laws that may attempt to focus on combatting certain troubling aspects of immigration may later be declared unconstitutional on a federal level (Shafritz, Russell, & Borick, 2016).
The complex dynamics surrounding an intergovernmental approach to immigration make it clear that the argument requires more than mere decentralization of federal control. The conflict on the issues that stretches from national agencies to neighborhood councils is shaped by “ideology and institutional imperatives” to the same extent as constitutional law (Rodriguez, 2017). Significant functional issues can be attributed to federal mandates regarding immigration enforcement.
For example, federal policy has led to the involvement of local law enforcement as immigration agents who have inherited the responsibilities of checking citizenship status and detaining those failing to produce documentation. Some localities have actively supported the initiative, developing policies that have expanded the effort. Other local governments severely opposed the mandate, but federal programs became mandatory. This led to a causality chain of social problems including underreported crime in immigrant communities, militarization incompatible with law enforcement training, and ethnic profiling (Jung, 2015). This situation provides a clear example of the social impacts that illegal immigration and attempts at its enforcement present as an intergovernmental issue.
Significance and Government Responsibility
The importance of illegal immigration has become a highly publicized political issue, making discussion difficult since political ideology strongly distorts accurate facts and promotes biased judgment. The range of opinions on illegal immigrants varies from labeling them as terrorists and drug smugglers to maintaining that they are taking jobs and welfare from U.S. citizens. Most media focus is on presidential candidates and congressmen who use ideological rhetoric to gain public support.
It is rare for elected officials to take the time to investigate the issue and work with illegal immigrants in the settings faced by government agencies and social organizations. Furthermore, mass immigration offers the U.S. economy some positive impacts despite dubious statistics. On the other hand, illegal border crossings pose numerous risks associated with national security, social resources, and the overall cultural identity of the country.
The line becomes distorted when the reputation of those choosing to break the law begins to reflect on legal immigrants and migrant workers. The crisis has a dual impact, creating discrimination against legal immigration while providing a cover for activities that threaten national security. All these aspects worry about core citizens and communities, specifically those localities facing an annual influx of illegal immigrants.
The federal government is the only entity able to provide lawful citizenship status as well as funding for many state programs that bear the costs of illegal immigration. The federal government has the responsibility to oversee the process of immigration, supporting states in implementing programs, and ensuring safety at the border and for affected communities.
States may lack the experience and funding necessary to work with a naturalization process and efficiently collaborate with the appropriate agencies to deal with the socio-economic effects of illegal immigrants. The federal government must develop legislation that includes the priority interests of local jurisdictions while ensuring that constitutional and humanitarian rights are properly upheld. Meanwhile, state and local governments share responsibilities for implementing programs of various roles and scale.
The central authority of states is involved in providing public education and services. This gives immigrants a chance to settle in communities, learn the language, and gain qualifications for economic opportunities. Furthermore, states can aid with the process of obtaining legal documentation and protect immigrants from fraudulent practices that target them (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2014). Overall, federal and local responsibilities are shared and intertwined, highlighting the necessity for cooperation.
Enforcement federalism creates a conflict between levels of government in terms of how to deal with the issue and enforce removal policies. Following the obvious failure, integration federalism seems like a logical approach focused on assistance to immigrants and naturalizing working-class families. This type of federalism should attempt to establish a balance between the federal judiciary and the reality of the humanitarian crisis that localities and immigrant communities are experiencing. Integration policy should be developed on a local level, based on available resources and supported by national funding.
In the end, integration federalism is not a solution, but rather a structural parameter that can bring intergovernmental cooperation. If all involved parties practice rationality and systemic flexibility necessary for integration federalism, long-term legislative solutions to the issue can be found, establishing an appropriate balance between federal and local policy. Meanwhile, the federal government should amend statutory provisions so that states have more legislative control over local immigration policy (Rodriguez, 2017).
Jung, D. (2015). Conflicting role implementation and community safety. Web.
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Pew Charitable Trusts. (2014). Immigration and legalization: Roles and responsibilities of states and localities. Web.
Rodriguez, C. (2017). Enforcement, integration, and the future of immigration federalism. Journal on Migration and Human Security, 5(2), 509-540. Web.
Shafritz, J., Russell, E., & Borick, C. (2016). Introducing public administration 8th ed. New York, NY: Rutledge. Web.