The past several years have witnessed a significant increase in the volume of state and local laws related to immigration, many of them attempting to increase law enforcement efforts, and deny residency, public benefits, and employment to undocumented immigrants. Ostensibly erected for resource-guarding reasons, these sub-national regulations act as legally constructed walls, closing off local communities to migrants. Proponents of such measures also contend that sub-national closure - especially in the shadow of lax national border control - is critical to cultural stability and preservation. This Article maintains that resource-guarding rationales are proxies for culture-based exclusion. As such, this Article argues that policymakers at national and sub-national levels should focus on the viability of the cultural arguments underlying exclusionary legislation. Such analysis will ultimately conclude that sub-national immigration regulation is neither the only, nor most effective, method for promoting community cohesion and stability. Because state and local laws aimed at excluding immigrants cannot actually achieve their purpose - i.e., preserving the cultural status quo - sub-national entities should abandon their barrier-building. Community culture will change and evolve regardless of the presence of undocumented persons. In addition, constitutional constraints and economic incentives limit the degree of closure any sub-national community could hope to achieve. This Article then demonstrates that national or sub-national units can create and maintain stable, culturally distinct communities without building physical or legal walls. Indeed, the current spectrum of local response to national border policy - with some localities electing to embrace and include undocumented immigrants - demonstrates that sub-national inclusiveness can also serve community cohesiveness. A more generous immigration policy will not de-stabilize sub-national communities, and therefore these communities need not, and should not, exclude putative members, regardless of citizenship status.
77 U. Cin. L. Rev. 1441