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Abstract

Immigration in the United States is traditionally thought of as a federal-level policy, but in recent years, states have been exceedingly active in this domain. We analyse the context and discourse of immigration-related legislative resolutions from Southern border-states, recipients of the heaviest immigration flows, and find that states do not respond in the same way to immigration challenges, and these differences occur over time and space. Some states seek to federalize the issue and push Congress to take action, while others are slowly incorporating immigrants into domestic politics and have begun to treat them as yet another state constituency. These findings have significant implications both for federal-state relations in the immigration realm, and for immigrants themselves.