Immigration, Its Legalization and Responsibilities

The case study mentions that immigration, particularly the aspect of illegal migration, is one of the most controversial and divisive issues of public policy in recent years. It has served as one of the driving factors and the basis of the running platform for the Trump administration. In many of his speeches promising to better America, Trump vowed to resolve the issue of immigration, often taking a tough stance and the radical populist approach. However, the immigration issue is more than a matter of political ideology, it has grown into a humanitarian crisis which impacts the lives of families and socio-economic well-being of communities. Immigration can be resolved through a competent and rational policy approach that emphasizes the cooperation and balance amongst various levels of government and addresses the concerns of economic costs and border security.

Political Significance

Immigration maintains a powerful political significance because of its long-term impact. Decades of immigration policy have eventually begun to shape the demographic composition of society which, in turn, influences overall cultural values, public policy needs, and political trends. In the end, it impacts the core political calculus of the nation (Hudak, 2014). The intense focus on immigration, particularly within the scope of the recent Presidential race, has strongly politicized the issue. While public attention may lead to more efforts directed towards resolving the crisis, it also creates a wide variety of strong ideological opinions, which distorts facts and promotes racial bias. Illegal immigration has become an inherent part of public policy, and it is a necessary topic of discussion in any election or by legislative bodies on all levels of government.

Intergovernmental Issue

Immigration is an intergovernmental aspect because it touches upon areas of management and interests that are mandated by policy to be distributed amongst federal, state, and local levels of the government. For example, the national government is concerned with illegal immigration since it affects national interests including border security, population census, and citizenship services. However, state and local levels of government deal with many economic and administrative impacts of illegal immigration. These include the distribution of public resources in terms of healthcare, housing, and education without the tax appropriation to cover the costs. Judiciary conflicts often occur due to policy overlap on immigration. While federal law must be abided by all jurisdictions, local and state level policies are location-based and may be overturned by higher courts as unconstitutional.

Functionality and practicality of mandates are under question. Federal policy may require more responsibility upon regional level law enforcement. Some locations support the initiative, heavily militarizing the police force. Others oppose it for evident reasons of high incidences of ethnic profiling and unsolved crime since so many resources are directed at dealing with mostly non-violent immigrants (Jung, 2015). The power dynamics around the intergovernmental approach to the crisis calls for the decentralization of federal power on such policy. At the same time, a manner of rationality should be practiced since all levels of government are driven by ideological beliefs rather than constitutional law.


Federal agencies have the responsibility of providing national security and working to oversee residency and citizenship statuses of incoming migrants. The federal government ensures safety at the border by running the border patrol force and checkpoints to ensure that the people and goods coming into the United States have proper permissions. Federal agencies work with state governments to help manage the socio-economic impacts as well as any naturalization processes as states often lack the means to address such issues. The responsibility of state and local governments is to provide public goods to the population, including healthcare, education, transportation, utilities, and other social services. These jurisdictions also have their own public administration and law enforcement agencies. Local governments can provide public programs which can be aimed at immigrants that support integration into society and adequate quality of life (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2014).

Although immigration is believed to be a significant national issue (which it is to an extent), it most strongly affects local communities where immigrants settle and integrate socially and economically. Ideally, immigrants could use local resources to become full-fledged members of the community and national resources to obtain the necessary residency documentation in order to establish a legal status and be able to pay the critical taxes for the use of public services.

The Role of Federalism

The current approach of enforcement federalism has mainly been ineffective due to creating discord in immigration policy. Perhaps, a more thorough strategy of integration federalism is sounder, focused on assisting and integrating immigrants into society through legal means. This would allow for gradually creating a sustainable balance between federal policy and actions and the local jurisdictions taking the brunt of costs associated with providing public services to illegal immigrants. A policy should be created from the ground up, based on the realities of communities affected by the crisis with the support of federal funding and scale of operation. Integration federalism is not a long-term solution, but it is a sustainable structural mechanism of policy creation meant to increase intergovernmental collaboration. However, it requires compromise and ideological flexibility at a systemic level from political parties and administrations at all levels of government (Rodriguez, 2017). The federal government should also modify statutory provisions to impose greater legislative control over immigration policy on state legislation, thus establishing a long-term sustainable balance of addressing the issue.


Hudak, J. (2014). Immigration may change American politics as we know it. Web.

Jung, D. (2015). Conflicting role implementation and community safety. Web.

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.