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Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the dynamic of competitive federalism
  • Analyze some issues over which the states and federal government have contended

Certain functions clearly belong to the federal government, the state governments, and local governments. National security is a federal matter, the issuance of licenses is a state matter, and garbage collection is a local matter. One aspect of competitive federalism today is that some policy issues, such as immigration and the marital rights of gays and lesbians, have been redefined as the roles that states and the federal government play in them have changed. Another aspect of competitive federalism is that interest groups seeking to change the status quo can take a policy issue up to the federal government or down to the states if they feel it is to their advantage. Interest groups have used this strategy to promote their views on such issues as abortion, gun control, and the legal drinking age.

Contending issues

Immigration and marriage equality have not been the subject of much contention between states and the federal government until recent decades. Before that, it was understood that the federal government handled immigration and states determined the legality of same-sex marriage. This understanding of exclusive responsibilities has changed; today both levels of government play roles in these two policy areas.

Immigration federalism describes the gradual movement of states into the immigration policy domain.

Carol M. Swain and Virgina M. Yetter. (2014). “Federalism and the Politics of Immigration Reform.” In The Politics of Major Policy Reform in Postwar America , eds. Jeffery A. Jenkins and Sidney M. Milkis. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Since the late 1990s, states have asserted a right to make immigration policy on the grounds that they are enforcing, not supplanting, the nation’s immigration laws, and they are exercising their jurisdictional authority by restricting illegal immigrants’ access to education, health care, and welfare benefits, areas that fall under the states’ responsibilities. In 2005, twenty-five states had enacted a total of thirty-nine laws related to immigration; by 2014, forty-three states and Washington, DC, had passed a total of 288 immigration-related laws and resolutions.
National Conference of State Legislatures. “State Laws Related to Immigration and Immigrants.” http://www.ncsl.org/research/immigration/state-laws-related-to-immigration-and-immigrants.aspx (June 23, 2015).

Arizona has been one of the states at the forefront of immigration federalism. In 2010, it passed Senate Bill 1070 , which sought to make it so difficult for illegal immigrants to live in the state that they would return to their native country, a strategy referred to as “attrition by enforcement.”

Michele Waslin. 2012. “Discrediting ‘Self Deportation’ as Immigration Policy,” February 6. http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/special-reports/discrediting-%E2%80%9Cself-deportation%E2%80%9D-immigration-policy
The federal government filed suit to block the Arizona law, contending that it conflicted with federal immigration laws. Arizona’s law has also divided society, because some groups, like the Tea Party movement, have supported its tough stance against illegal immigrants, while other groups have opposed it for humanitarian and human-rights reasons ( [link] ). According to a poll of Latino voters in the state by Arizona State University researchers, 81 percent opposed this bill.
Daniel González. 2010. “SB 1070 Backlash Spurs Hispanics to Join Democrats,” June 8. http://archive.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2010/06/08/20100608arizona-immigration-law-backlash.html

Questions & Answers

to this textbook which countries have the highest rates of execution?
michael Reply
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having so many levels of subnational governments in the United States? Explain
Nicole Reply
to help in protecting the right of the citizens, in safety purpose also if not many tribulation war and conflict in between the Nations and perhaps the citizens that is we really needs them.
What are the advantages
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Benedicta Reply
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Comfort Reply
by following all the due processes
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because it is documented
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government of the people by the people and for the people
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Fortune Reply
What's political parties?
What's Political apathy
political parties can be defined as a group of people who share a common interest
political apathy it can be defined by act of not having Interest in any politics
political parties are organised group of citizens,acting as a political unit and through the use of their voting power trys to control the government.
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Slande Reply
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