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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

Which of the following types of discrimination would be subject to the rational basis test?
Jessie Reply
what are the purpose of courts
Why does the devolution of power cause an increase in the number and types of interests?
Karen Reply
Bigger the governments or in devolution, number of governments, more people come to power, so more corruption.Federal system is also example of devolution, WHERE three lists are made, one handled solely by centre like Defence etc., other decided by provincial gov as edu., other example is Scotland.
examples of countries with direct democracy?
Nicolas Reply
what is four main reason of government
Abubakarr Reply
how is the president in United States
I m not staying in United states but I wish to go they
Which of the following is true of spending in politics
Ashley Reply
what is government
Michael Reply
is the system to govern a state or community
what is government
what 2 important issues went unresolved in the constitution?
Queenie Reply
the 1957 Ghana constitution
Ahorlu Reply
The framers of the Constitution designed the Senate to filter the output of the sometimes hasty House. Do you think this was a wise idea? Why or why not?
Emily Reply
what is freedom?
syed Reply
what is political eqaulity
what is federalism?
Maria Reply
federalism Federalism is a system of government in which entities such as states or provinces share power with a national government. The United States government functions according to the principles of federalism.
panyaring means
meaning of panyaring
what is government
what is democracy
Democracy is the government of the people by the praise people and for the people
What is the REPUBLIC ? How many states is federalism In ?
opata city government ? county government ? I or state government? FEDERAL government.?
DEMOCRACY democrats democratic democratics ? Easiest answer Blue red and white . red = REPUBLICANS not republic! Republican white is LIBERAL neither side left wing or right wing .
how is power dispered in American federalism?
Savannah Reply
how is power dispersed in American federalism?
what three factors molds nations, state, relations today
what three factors mold national,state relations today
In which areas do you think peoples rights and liberties are at risk of government intrusion?
camille Reply
whenever......new government
Marjan Reply
clearly,who was meant to be in charge of this new government?

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Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
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