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In its efforts to enforce the immigration laws, the federal government has been challenged by the forces of federalism. Spurred in part by social movements and partisan and interest group politics, state and local police and political officials across the country have concluded that the federal government both under-enforces and over-enforces the law. The case for under-enforcement has been made most vociferously in the state of Arizona and like-minded jurisdictions that have sought to augment federal enforcement with their own efforts, most of which have been invalidated or significantly curbed by federal courts. More recently, the case for over-enforcement has been embodied in the anti-detainer movement, or the refusal by states such as California and cities such as Chicago to honor federal requests to hold potentially removable non-citizens in the custody of their law enforcement agencies.

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