Strange Neighbors

The Role of States in Immigration Policy

276 pages

15 figures, 2 tables

May, 2014

ISBN: 9780814737804



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Carissa Byrne Hessick is Professor of Law at University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. Prior to joining the Utah faculty, Professor Hessick spent two years as a Climenko Fellow at Harvard Law School, and she taught as a Professor of Law at Arizona State’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

All books by Carissa Byrne Hessick

Gabriel J. Chin is Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis School of Law. His work on immigration and criminal law has been widely cited by scholars and courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

All books by Gabriel J. Chin

Since its founding, the U.S. has struggled with issues of federalism and states’ rights. In almost every area of law, from abortion to zoning, conflicts arise between the states and the federal government over which entity is best suited to create and enforce laws. In the last decade, immigration has been on the front lines of this debate, with states such as Arizona taking an extremely assertive role in policing immigrants within their borders. While Arizona and its notorious SB 1070 is the most visible example of states claiming expanded responsibility to make and enforce immigration law, it is far from alone. An ordinance in Hazelton, Pennsylvania prohibited landlords from renting to the undocumented. Several states have introduced legislation to deny citizenship to babies who are born to parents who are in the United States without authorization. Other states have also enacted legislation aimed at driving out unauthorized migrants.

Strange Neighbors explores the complicated and complicating role of the states in immigration policy and enforcement, including voices from both sides of the debate. While many contributors point to the dangers inherent in state regulation of immigration policy, at least two support it, while others offer empirically-based examinations of state efforts to regulate immigration within their borders, pointing to wide, state-by-state disparities in locally-administered immigration policies and laws. Ultimately, the book offers an extremely timely, thorough, and spirited discussion on an issue that will continue to dominate state and federal legislatures for years to come.


  • "This book provides context, perspective, and the reasoning behind both sides’ positions.  That makes it a valuable resource for anyone seriously interested in gaining a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the debate over federal and states’ rights in the immigration realm.”

    The Federal Lawyer

  • "A new collection of essays…Strange Neighbors shines a much needed light on state immigration activities and reveals that the federal government’s impressive power over migrants’ lives is only one part of the story.”

  • "The essays in Strange Neighbors provide new and timely insights into decades of debates about how laws, generated by state, local, and federal governments, create or mitigate the impact of national borders on millions of people—in and outside of the United States."

    —Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School

  • "Hessick and Chin have assembled a provocative set of methodologically and ideologically diverse essays that will help shape the immigration policy debate across disciplines and in the public sphere. Together the contributions show how the turmoil surrounding Arizona’s SB 1070 illuminates a vibrant national debate with deep historical roots and important implications for the future of the American polity. Any scholar interested in federalism, law enforcement, and constitutional politics should turn to this volume for insight."

    —Cristina M. Rodríguez, Yale Law School

  • "In Arizona v. United States (2012), the Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling that invalidated core provisions of Arizona’s S.B. 1070, the controversial state immigration enforcement law that was a model for many states and localities seeking to buttress, and arguably expand on, federal immigration enforcement efforts. Strange Neighbors is one of the first book-length inquiries into the efforts by state and local governments to regulate immigration. With an insightful introduction by Jack Chin and Carissa Byrne Hessick, the book explains the emergence of state and local immigration enforcement laws, the historical antecedents to those laws, provide vigorous defenses of state and local immigration regulation by two of their most prominent advocates, and offer critical evaluations of the state and local efforts to regulate immigration. The authors of the chapters are leaders in the field and authors of some of the most exciting immigration law scholarship being published today. It goes without saying that Strange Neighbors is a 'must read' for anyone interested in immigration enforcement in the twenty-first century."

    —Kevin R. Johnson, Dean, UC Davis School of Law