Immigration and Intergovernmental Relations: How Immigration is Redrawing the Lines of Federalism


In May 2007, Encarnacion Bail Romero, mother of Carlitos Romero, and an undocumented worker in Missouri, was arrested at a poultry plant by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during an immigration raid (Gigler, Ross, & Hill, 2012).   While Romero was incarcerated for an immigration-related law that the Supreme Court later struck down as unconstitutional, the State of Missouri terminated Romero’s parental rights and granted the adoption of Carlitos to a Missouri couple (Cambria, 2012).  After Romero exhausted all legal options, the adoption was upheld by a Missouri Juvenile Court (Ross & Hill, 2012).  Romero’s case is not an isolated incident, as Wessler (2011) found that more than 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were removed from their children in the first half of 2011, and at least 5,100 children of detained or deported undocumented immigrants are in U.S. foster care.  These types of cases highlight the complexity of intergovernmental relations in a federalist system, existing precisely because of the gaps between the patchwork of federal, state, and local immigration laws and policies.  Immigration policy gaps exist because federal, state, and local policymakers disagree over both the aims and means of immigration policy and because federal policy consequences are borne by state and local governments in the form of an unfunded mandate, giving rise to immigrant federalism caused by active state and local governments seeking to create change.

Hoefer, Rytina, and Baker (2012) estimate that there are 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, the majority of which are from Mexico and Central America.  Extreme estimates by conservative, anti-immigration think tank FAIR, suggest that undocumented immigrants cost $113 billion annually, 76% of which is borne by state and local governments (Martin & Ruark, 2010).  Although, the Congressional Budget Office (2007) found that while the costs to state and local governments exceeded the revenues from undocumented immigrations, the budgetary impact was modest.  Furthermore, and Shafritz, Russell, and Borick (2011) and Hanson (2007) both recognize that undocumented immigrants are positive for the U.S. economy.  Why then are state and local governments more active in the legislation and regulation of immigration?

While the lack of reliable statistics give fuel to differing partisan perspectives on the immigration debate, the unequal budgetary burden placed on state and local governments make illegal immigration “the mother of all unfunded mandates” (Shafritz, et al., 2011, p. 164).  It is therefore, little surprise, given both the economic burden and a lack of clear direction from the federal government, that state and local governments are seeking a rearrangement of immigrant federalism (Huntington, 2008).  In fact, Huntington (2008) argues that the immigration debate should be considered through a lens of federalism to determine proper allocation of power between the various levels of government, rather than having the federal government preempt all immigration law and policy decisions.  Huntington’s (2008) perspective echoes the notion of incremental decision making inherent in a federal system that Shafritz, et al. (2011) consider “integral to democracy” (p. 140).  Indeed, the tendency towards incrementalism may be one of key reasons for lack of clear immigration policy from the federal government.

Shafritz, et al. (2011) note that in 2007, “at least 1,100 immigration bills were submitted by state lawmakers” (p. 164).   Some of the new legislation is aimed at making illegal immigration less favorable in the jurisdictions of local lawmakers, while other localities enact legislation to make illegal immigration more favorable (Huntington, 2008).  Where some lawmakers are seeking to discourage illegal immigration to reduce the economic consequences of the unfunded mandate, others are seeking to encourage immigration in order to grow their local economies.  There are also some who consider anti-immigration a thinly, veiled attempt to advance a nativist and ultimately racist agenda (Zeskind, 2005).  Indeed, history would suggest that immigration policy has it roots in a discriminatory agenda (U.S. Commission On Civil Rights, 1980).  It is clear that differing policy actors have conflicting views on the aims of U.S. immigration policy, and likely the means.  It is equally clear that the federal government must consider the various policy aims of constituent governments, while also assuring the needs and interests of minority or weaker groups are protected.   It appears to this author that the federalist system of government is both the cause of the slow progress in immigration reform, and responsible for the benefits of the existing immigration policy to various constituents.

Despite the history of incrementalism inherent in a federalist system, the immigration debate has started a new chapter in what appears to be a continual redefinition of federalism to determine where legislative and administrative power resides in immigration policy.  As federal immigration policy consequences are largely borne by state and local governments, the last decade has seen the rise of immigrant federalism creating a patchwork of federal, state, and local immigration laws that clearly disagree over both the aims and means of national immigration policy.   While the immigration federalism policy debate appears far from over, the urgency to improve immigration policy is clear, because existing policy allows the U.S. citizen children to be involuntarily taken from their undocumented immigrant parents, a situation that should never occur in a country built on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

References

Cambria, N. (2012, July 19, 2012). Judge gives Missouri couple custody of illegal immigrant’s child  Retrieved August 4,, 2012, from http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/judge-gives-missouri-couple-custody-of-illegal-immigrant-s-child/article_8d7ca32d-94e9-54f4-91a8-7512476da753.html

Congressional Budget Office. (2007). The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments.  Washington DC: U.S. Congress: Congressional Budget Office Retrieved from http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/87xx/doc8711/12-6-immigration.pdf.

Gigler, L., Ross, B., & Hill, A. M. (2012, February 1, 2012). Adoption Battle Over 5-Year Old Boy Pits Missouri Couple Vs. Illegal Immigrant  Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/adoption-battle-year-boy-pits-missouri-couple-illegal/story?id=15484447 – .UB1uVI6_FLo

Hanson, G. H. (2007). The economic logic of illegal immigration. Council on Foreign Relations, 26(April 2007), 1-52.

Hoefer, M., Rytina, N., & Baker, B. (2012). Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2011.  Washington, DC: Department of Homeland Security Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2011.pdf.

Huntington, C. (2008). The consistutional dimension of immigration federalism. Vanderbilt Law Review, 61(3), 787-853.

Martin, J., & Ruark, E. (2010). The fiscal burden of illegal immigration on United States taxpayers (pp. 1-95). Washington DC: Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Ross, B., & Hill, A. M. (2012, July 18, 2012). Tug-of-Love: Immigrant Mom Loses Effort to Regain Son Given to US Parents  Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/immigrant-mom-loses-effort-regain-son-us-parents/story?id=16803067 – .UB1t-o6_FLo

Shafritz, J. M., Russell, E. W., & Borick, C. P. (2011). Introducing public administration (7th ed.). Boston: Longman.

U.S. Commission On Civil Rights. (1980). Historical dimiscrimination in the immigration laws. In R. Fiske-Rusciano (Ed.), Experiencing race, class, and gender in the United States (5th ed.). Boston, Mass.: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Wessler, S. F. (2011). Shatter Families: The Perilous intersection of immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System: Executive Summary (pp. 1-10). New York, New York: Applied Research Center.

Zeskind, L. (2005, October 23, 2005). The new nativism. The American Prospect  Retrieved August 10, 2011, from http://prospect.org/cs/articles?articleId=10485


Immigration and Intergovernmental Relations: How Immigration is Redrawing the Lines of Federalism


 In May 2007, Encarnacion Bail Romero, mother of Carlitos Romero, and an undocumented worker in Missouri, was arrested at a poultry plant by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during an immigration raid (Gigler, Ross, & Hill, 2012).   While Romero was incarcerated for an immigration-related law that the Supreme Court later struck down as unconstitutional, the State of Missouri terminated Romero’s parental rights and granted the adoption of Carlitos to a Missouri couple (Cambria, 2012).  After Romero exhausted all legal options, the adoption was upheld by a Missouri Juvenile Court (Ross & Hill, 2012).  Romero’s case is not an isolated incident, as Wessler (2011) found that more than 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were removed from their children in the first half of 2011, and at least 5,100 children of detained or deported undocumented immigrants are in U.S. foster care.  These types of cases highlight the complexity of intergovernmental relations in a federalist system, existing precisely because of the gaps between the patchwork of federal, state, and local immigration laws and policies.  Immigration policy gaps exist because federal, state, and local policymakers disagree over both the aims and means of immigration policy and because federal policy consequences are borne by state and local governments in the form of an unfunded mandate, giving rise to immigrant federalism caused by active state and local governments seeking to create change.

Hoefer, Rytina, and Baker (2012) estimate that there are 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, the majority of which are from Mexico and Central America.  Extreme estimates by conservative, anti-immigration think tank FAIR, suggest that undocumented immigrants cost $113 billion annually, 76% of which is borne by state and local governments (Martin & Ruark, 2010).  Although, the Congressional Budget Office (2007) found that while the costs to state and local governments exceeded the revenues from undocumented immigrations, the budgetary impact was modest.  Furthermore, and Shafritz, Russell, and Borick (2011) and Hanson (2007) both recognize that undocumented immigrants are positive for the U.S. economy.  Why then are state and local governments more active in the legislation and regulation of immigration?

While the lack of reliable statistics give fuel to differing partisan perspectives on the immigration debate, the unequal budgetary burden placed on state and local governments make illegal immigration “the mother of all unfunded mandates” (Shafritz, et al., 2011, p. 164).  It is therefore, little surprise, given both the economic burden and a lack of clear direction from the federal government, that state and local governments are seeking a rearrangement of immigrant federalism (Huntington, 2008).  In fact, Huntington (2008) argues that the immigration debate should be considered through a lens of federalism to determine proper allocation of power between the various levels of government, rather than having the federal government preempt all immigration law and policy decisions.  Huntington’s (2008) perspective echoes the notion of incremental decision making inherent in a federal system that Shafritz, et al. (2011) consider “integral to democracy” (p. 140).  Indeed, the tendency towards incrementalism may be one of key reasons for lack of clear immigration policy from the federal government.

Shafritz, et al. (2011) note that in 2007, “at least 1,100 immigration bills were submitted by state lawmakers” (p. 164).   Some of the new legislation is aimed at making illegal immigration less favorable in the jurisdictions of local lawmakers, while other localities enact legislation to make illegal immigration more favorable (Huntington, 2008).  Where some lawmakers are seeking to discourage illegal immigration to reduce the economic consequences of the unfunded mandate, others are seeking to encourage immigration in order to grow their local economies.  There are also some who consider anti-immigration a thinly, veiled attempt to advance a nativist and ultimately racist agenda (Zeskind, 2005).  Indeed, history would suggest that immigration policy has it roots in a discriminatory agenda (U.S. Commission On Civil Rights, 1980).  It is clear that differing policy actors have conflicting views on the aims of U.S. immigration policy, and likely the means.  It is equally clear that the federal government must consider the various policy aims of constituent governments, while also assuring the needs and interests of minority or weaker groups are protected.   It appears to this author that the federalist system of government is both the cause of the slow progress in immigration reform, and responsible for the benefits of the existing immigration policy to various constituents.

Despite the history of incrementalism inherent in a federalist system, the immigration debate has started a new chapter in what appears to be a continual redefinition of federalism to determine where legislative and administrative power resides in immigration policy.  As federal immigration policy consequences are largely borne by state and local governments, the last decade has seen the rise of immigrant federalism creating a patchwork of federal, state, and local immigration laws that clearly disagree over both the aims and means of national immigration policy.   While the immigration federalism policy debate appears far from over, the urgency to improve immigration policy is clear, because existing policy allows the U.S. citizen children to be involuntarily taken from their undocumented immigrant parents, a situation that should never occur in a country built on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

 

References

Cambria, N. (2012, July 19, 2012). Judge gives Missouri couple custody of illegal immigrant’s child  Retrieved August 4,, 2012, from http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/judge-gives-missouri-couple-custody-of-illegal-immigrant-s-child/article_8d7ca32d-94e9-54f4-91a8-7512476da753.html

Congressional Budget Office. (2007). The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments.  Washington DC: U.S. Congress: Congressional Budget Office Retrieved from http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/87xx/doc8711/12-6-immigration.pdf.

Gigler, L., Ross, B., & Hill, A. M. (2012, February 1, 2012). Adoption Battle Over 5-Year Old Boy Pits Missouri Couple Vs. Illegal Immigrant  Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/adoption-battle-year-boy-pits-missouri-couple-illegal/story?id=15484447 – .UB1uVI6_FLo

Hanson, G. H. (2007). The economic logic of illegal immigration. Council on Foreign Relations, 26(April 2007), 1-52.

Hoefer, M., Rytina, N., & Baker, B. (2012). Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2011.  Washington, DC: Department of Homeland Security Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2011.pdf.

Huntington, C. (2008). The consistutional dimension of immigration federalism. Vanderbilt Law Review, 61(3), 787-853.

Martin, J., & Ruark, E. (2010). The fiscal burden of illegal immigration on United States taxpayers (pp. 1-95). Washington DC: Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Ross, B., & Hill, A. M. (2012, July 18, 2012). Tug-of-Love: Immigrant Mom Loses Effort to Regain Son Given to US Parents  Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/immigrant-mom-loses-effort-regain-son-us-parents/story?id=16803067 – .UB1t-o6_FLo

Shafritz, J. M., Russell, E. W., & Borick, C. P. (2011). Introducing public administration (7th ed.). Boston: Longman.

U.S. Commission On Civil Rights. (1980). Historical dimiscrimination in the immigration laws. In R. Fiske-Rusciano (Ed.), Experiencing race, class, and gender in the United States (5th ed.). Boston, Mass.: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Wessler, S. F. (2011). Shatter Families: The Perilous intersection of immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System: Executive Summary (pp. 1-10). New York, New York: Applied Research Center.

Zeskind, L. (2005, October 23, 2005). The new nativism. The American Prospect  Retrieved August 10, 2011, from http://prospect.org/cs/articles?articleId=10485

 

 


The Space Shuttle Disasters: Organizational Fog at NASA


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, responsible for putting the first human being on the moon and building the first reusable launch vehicle, was a symbol of American pride, technical ingenuity, and managerial excellence.  Given NASA’s thirty-year track record of historic achievements, the nation was shocked when the space shuttle Challenger “blew up 73 seconds after liftoff because an O-ring seal on one of the booster rockets failed” (Shafritz, Russell, & Borick, 2011, p. 74).  The Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident (1986), charged with determining the cause of the accident, would find that NASA engineers knew about the problems with the O-rings and attribute the accident to faulty decision making by NASA management.  Seventeen years later, the space shuttle Columbia broke apart over the western United States, an accident the Columbia Accident Investigation Board found was caused by similar organizational failures; known problems that were deemed acceptable, isolated decision-makers that did not listen to experienced technical staff, and pressure to launch, concluding organizational culture was as much to blame as the technical failures.  Shafritz, et al. (2011) describe the faulty decision-making by NASA administrators using the metaphor of Clausewitz’s “fog of war”, or the uncertainty resulting from too much information, political pressure for performance, and cultural barriers.   NASA is not alone in susceptibility to the “fog of war”.  Rather, most large organizations suffer from the same problem because of the compromises caused by limited resources, accountability to a variety of stakeholders, and the power of organizational culture to enforce norms of behavior.

Following the success of the Apollo program, NASA had ambitions to build a series of increasingly large space stations that could house up to 100 people, ambitions that would require the economics of a reusable launch vehicle (Cayatte, 2008).  However, with the election of President Nixon, political priorities changed in Washington and with subsequent budget cuts, NASA had to scrap their ambitions for large space stations, instead accepting the mission to “revolutionize transportation into near space, by routinizing it” (Nixon, 1972, p. 1).  The new mission allowed NASA to continue development of the space shuttle, while forgoing their original purpose, in favor of building a vehicle that would allow “men and women with work to do in space [to] “commute” aloft, without having to spend years in training for the skills and rigors of old-style space flight” (Nixon, 1972).  The new mission was the result of an agenda compromise and incremental decision-making in reaction to the struggling economy of the early seventies.  Unfortunately, the political compromise contributed to mission fog, given the shuttle “was designed to be a transportation system, to go someplace else, but it eventually became, because of the lack of money, its own destination” (Cayatte, 2008, p. 1).  Moreover, the space shuttle program needed to become cost-effective by hauling military and commercial satellites into low-earth orbit, further altering the shuttle design and introducing production performance pressure into a research and development agency.

Historically, “NASA’s form of organization emphasized deference to expertise and minimized the number of political appointments at the top of the administrative structure” (Romzek & Dubnick, 1987, p. 231).  However, the introduction of production pressure resulted in increased political and bureaucratic accountability, to a variety of stakeholders, including the President, the Congress, the media, and the program’s military and commercial customers (Romzek & Dubnick, 1987).  The increased political and bureaucratic accountability introduced subtle, yet powerful influence into the day-to-day decisions of NASA administrators.  For example, while NASA considered safety the number one priority, the “launch schedule was right up there with it. We were showing the congress and the American public that we’ve got a space truck here that’s ready to go, let’s go start doing other things in space…[it is] extremely important that we meet those schedules and keep the operating cost of the vehicle down” (Cayatte, 2008, p. 1).  Accountability to a variety of stakeholders influenced the organizational structure and priorities of NASA, making production performance, at a minimum, the equal of safety, a situation that would also influence NASA organizational culture.

Organizational culture is considered “the set of shared, taken-for-granted implicit assumptions that a group holds and that determines how it perceives, thinks about, and reacts to its various environments” (Schein, 1996, p. 236).   As accountability at NASA changed, so did organizational culture.   With conformance to production goals placed in the forefront of the agency’s thinking, the safety function took a back seat, as NASA was “immersed in a culture of proof.  That is, they were required to prove …that there was a mission critical problem that necessitated the postponement of the launch” (Hall, 2003).  Moreover, miscommunication between management and technical staff was frequent and there was a cultural aversion to send bad news upward (Winsor, 1988).   It is said that success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan, a metaphor that reflects the agency’s culture during the program.  Despite foreknowledge of the problems with the O-rings, the information simply did not reach decision-makers that were blinded from the facts by a cultural fog.

The reality of large organizations, and notably public organizations, is that most must operate in an environment of limited or scarce resources, requiring mission compromise and incremental decision-making.  For public organizations, limited resources are an increasingly common fact of life, given the rising percentage of budget allocated to entitlement spending.  Because of the scrutiny of a variety of stakeholders that influence public agencies, pressure for performance is commonplace.  In particular, political pressure is a pervasive presence in most public agencies, as politicians seek to demonstrate their success and influence on behalf of their constituents.  Limited resources and incremental decision-making frequently cause compromises to a public agency’s mission.  In order to avoid being blinded by “the fog of war”, public administrators need to carefully assess how accountability to diverse stakeholders and organizational culture may be impacted by mission compromise, particularly given how central accountability and culture are to defining norms of organizational behavior.

 

 

References

Cayatte, G. (Writer) & A. Ritsko (Director). (2008). Columbia: Space Shuttle Disaster. In P. Apsell (Producer), NOVA: PBS.

Hall, J. L. (2003). Columbia and Challenger: organizational failure at NASA. Space Policy, 19, 239-247.

Nixon, R. M. (1972). President Nixon’s 1972 Announcement on the Space Shuttle  Retrieved March 6, 2012, from http://history.nasa.gov/printFriendly/stsnixon.htm

Romzek, B. S., & Dubnick, M. J. (1987). Accountability in the public sector: Lessons from the Challenger tragedy. Public Administration Review, 47(3), 227-238.

Schein, E. H. (1996). Culture: The missing concept in organization studies. Adminstrative Science Quarterly, 41(2), 229-240.

Shafritz, J. M., Russell, E. W., & Borick, C. P. (2011). Introducing public administration (7th ed.). Boston: Longman.

United States. Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. (1986). Report to the President. Washington, D.C.: The Commission.

Winsor, D. A. (1988). Communication failures contributing to the Challenger accident: An example for technical communicators. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 31(3), 101-107.