Political Science Immigration Politics and Policy in the United States
by
Heather Silber Mohamed, Emily M. Farris
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0223

Introduction

Although the Statue of Liberty, one of the premier symbols of the United States, welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” America’s relationship with its immigrants has long been ambivalent. Throughout the United States’ history, there have been persistent and charged debates over the nature and consequences of immigration. At times, America has greatly restricted the number and characteristics of newcomers, despite its aspiration to be identified as a “nation of immigrants” and a “melting pot.” The heated, contentious debate over who should be included in the United States, and how they should be included, persists in the halls of Congress, the judiciary, the executive branch, and at the state and local levels. The literature related to history and contemporary debates regarding immigration politics and policy in the United States is expansive. This article addresses scholarship on a number of specific policy debates, as well as popular reactions to these polemics. The works below focus on three overarching themes. First, we discuss scholarship about the policies themselves. This research includes a historical perspective, looking back at early immigration policies that were characterized by a quota system and the exclusion of Asian immigrants, as well as a view on contemporary policy debates emerging since the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act. This significant piece of legislation overturned the system of national origin restrictions and led to the development of the current immigration policy regime. The second broad theme explores the immigrants themselves, including demographic trends, political and economic incorporation, and political participation. The final major theme includes reactions to contemporary policy debates by both the public and the press. Works in this area focus on public opinion about immigration policy, social movements emerging in response to the immigration debate, the anti-immigrant backlash, and media coverage of immigration politics. The end of this article also highlights key data sources for those wishing to conduct additional research in this area.

General Overview

A number of books present excellent overviews of the evolution of immigration policy over time. In this section, we describe books that span centuries of US immigration history and provide overarching introductions to the topic. In other sections, we discuss scholarship focusing on specific time periods. (Historical Perspectives before 1965 explores the earliest phases of immigration in the United States, while Contemporary Policy Issues examines debates emerging following the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act.) Focusing on immigration politics and policy from the founding of the United States to the early 2000s, Zolberg 2006 provides an extensive survey of hundreds of years of legislation and policymaking. Parker 2015 connects the history of immigrants to that of other marginalized groups in the United States. In addition to presenting a historical overview, Daniels 2004 provides a useful discussion of the histories of different groups of immigrants by national origin. Both Smith 1997 and Tichenor 2002 approach immigration history from the perspective of American political development, which seeks to understand the ways that culture, ideology, and institutions influence political and policy changes in the United States over time. Smith 1997 explores how ideas about what it means to be American have shaped immigration policies during different time periods, while Tichenor 2002 emphasizes the role of institutions and institutional change in immigration policy. Law 2010 presents an alternative perspective, as the author seeks to understand variation in the role of the federal courts in shaping immigration law. Finally, two notable books present useful introductions to key ideas about immigration. DeSipio and de la Garza 2015 is a helpful and highly accessible textbook that includes a synopsis of immigration history, while the edited volume Hirschman, et al. 1999 presents clear descriptions of a range of concepts and ideas about migration in the United States.

  • Daniels, Roger. Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882. New York: Hill and Wang, 2004.

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    This accessible, balanced book presents a clear overview of US immigration policy from 1882 to 2001. Daniels points out the inconsistencies in immigration policy, particularly as it deals with restricting immigrant groups. The early history is presented chronologically, while the second part of the book, which examines post-1965 policies, focuses on specific national origin groups, as well as post-9/11 policies.

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  • DeSipio, Louis, and Rodolfo O. de la Garza. U. S. Immigration in the Twenty-First Century: Making Americans, Remaking America. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2015.

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    This book, appropriate for undergraduates as an introductory text, is a comprehensive look at historic and contemporary immigration policy issues in the United States. The textbook includes a helpful, concise history of immigration policy, with a specific focus on the 2006–2007 congressional debates, which students will find accessible. DeSipio and de la Garza also include a chapter on naturalization policy, which focuses on questions of eligibility and process. Other chapters explore immigrant rights and immigrant civic and political participation.

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  • Hirschman, Charles, Philip Kasinitz, and Josh DeWind, eds. The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1999.

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    This edited volume focuses on key themes related to contemporary immigration, and is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate classes alike. The book’s chapters are authored by preeminent scholars in political science, sociology, and anthropology, and cover a wide range of topics, including the causes and consequences of immigration as well as immigrant incorporation.

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  • Law, Anna O. The Immigration Battle in American Courts. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511750991Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Traces more than a century of decisions made by the US Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals on immigration policy. Law demonstrates the importance of institutional context and the interaction between the courts and the bureaucracy in shaping immigration policy. Recommended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in the legal system, the bureaucracy, and immigration law.

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  • Parker, Kunal. Making Foreigners: Immigration and Citizenship Law in America, 1600–2000. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139343282Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Parker’s book ambitiously covers the myriad ways US policy has legally constructed the immigrant or foreigner over the course of four centuries of history. The work details the long-standing relationship between foreignness and subordination by connecting the history of the immigrant with other marginalized groups, such as women, the poor, and Native Americans.

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  • Smith, Rogers. Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U. S. History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.

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    Smith examines the ascriptive nature of US citizenship laws, asking how and why civic identities are restricted, often based on race, ethnicity, or sex. He points to “civic myths,” employed by those in power to advance their influence over a society. Smith’s book is in contrast to earlier works in American political development that tend to downplay the importance of race; Smith presents an alternative account that allows for varying definitions of “the people” across time.

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  • Tichenor, Daniel J. Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

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    Using an American political development approach, Tichenor presents an authoritative overview of US immigration policy starting in the 1800s. With an emphasis on historical institutions, he examines the ways that the three branches of government have influenced policy development, and, in particular, shifts between periods of inclusive and restrictive US immigration policy over time.

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  • Zolberg, Aristide. A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.

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    Very thorough overview of immigration politics in the United States, from the nation’s founding through contemporary policy debates, focusing particularly on the development of federal policy. Rich with historical detail, this book would work well for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses on immigration politics.

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Historical Perspectives before 1965

A range of scholarship focuses specifically on migration to the United States before the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, with much of this research studying different aspects of immigration policy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this time period, the United States experienced a surge of immigrants, primarily from southern and eastern Europe, and responsibility for immigration policy shifted squarely into the domain of the federal government. Early US policies emphasized the importance of national origin in determining who was eligible for admission, and much of the literature on this time period focuses on the varied experiences of different immigrant groups. With a wealth of historical sources, Lee 2003 details how the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 transformed US immigration policy into a gatekeeping nation with a system of restrictive, exclusionary laws. Ngai 2004 expands upon this early history and takes a more comprehensive look at a range of national origin groups. This widely cited book offers a detailed review of policies in the time period immediately before the 1965 act, exploring the ways in which these policies laid the foundation for contemporary debates. Both Dahl 1961 and Roediger 2005 focus on the experiences of early European immigrants, and their shift from the periphery into the mainstream. Dahl’s classic work in urban politics studies the political incorporation of these newcomers in a small New England city, while Roediger considers the larger process by which European immigrants gradually came to be seen as members of the white majority. Calavita 1992 examines another immigrant group during this time period, studying the controversial Bracero Program enacted between the United States and Mexico. This book is a case study of the program itself, but also presents a larger window into the process of immigration policymaking.

  • Calavita, Kitty. Inside the State: The Bracero Program, Immigration and the I. N. S. New York: Routledge, 1992.

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    Calavita’s study of the guest worker program between Mexico and the United States that lasted from 1942 to 1964 is an assessment of transnational migration, labor, and state-building. By exploring the top immigration policymakers involved in the evolution of the program, her work is helpful in understanding agency in the policymaking process as well as the history of Law Enforcement and Border Security.

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  • Dahl, Robert. Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1961.

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    While Ngai 2004 focuses on immigration policies pre-1965, Dahl analyzes immigrants’ role in local political life during this time period. In a case study of New Haven, Connecticut, Dahl depicts the experiences of the waves of European immigrants in this urban community as these newcomers sought to achieve political power. Dahl’s account presents the classic assimilation theory for European immigrant groups (see Immigrant Incorporation) in a pluralism model, with political parties courting members of different ethnic groups.

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  • Lee, Erika. At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

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    At America’s Gates is a thorough inspection of Chinese immigration to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lee focuses on the local, national, and transnational levels to examine the nuances of Chinese immigration during the years in the Chinese Exclusionary era and reveals the hardships the policies posed for Chinese American communities.

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  • Ngai, Mae. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

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    Focusing in particular on the time period between the 1920 Quota Acts and the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, Ngai presents a comprehensive overview of the legal treatment of different immigrant groups in the United States. She also explores the redefinition of some immigrant groups as “illegal aliens,” a categorization that has important implications for today’s policy debates on Undocumented Immigrants and DREAMers.

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  • Roediger, David. Working toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

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    This book explores the complex process by which European immigrants arriving in the late 19th and early 20th centuries went from being racially marginalized to being perceived as “white.” By connecting immigration to race, Roediger details the “inbetween-ness” position of European immigrants as neither black nor white, as well as the confluence of factors that led to a shift in their racial categorization.

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Contemporary Policy Issues

The Immigration and Nationality Acts of 1952 and 1965, also known as the McCarran-Walter and Hart-Celler Acts, respectively, abolished the national origins quotas that had governed US immigration policy since the 1920s. Instead, the United States shifted to a system of preferences based on skills and on family reunification that continues to provide the foundation for contemporary immigration policy. Despite expectations by policymakers at the time that the acts would do little to alter the composition of immigrants in the United States, these legal changes resulted in significant increases in newcomers from Latin America and Asia, dramatically changing the face of US immigrants. In this section, we describe literature that focuses on broad questions emerging in the wake of the 1965 law, while subsections explore debates over specific policy issues (Social Welfare Spending and Immigrants, English-Only Policy, Undocumented Immigrants and DREAMers, Detention and Deportation Policy, Law Enforcement and Border Security, State and Local Policies, and Refugee and Asylum Policy). In a definitive work on the 1965 legal changes and their repercussions, the edited volume Chin and Villazor 2015 brings together a collection of scholars from different fields to analyze the impact of these reforms fifty years later. Other research focuses on the political and economic implications of these new immigrants. Schmidt, et al. 2010 explores how contemporary immigrants are being incorporated into American politics at different levels of representation, as well as the consequences for racial politics. Beyond changing Demographic Trends, the emphasis on skills in the 1965 Immigration Act also led to substantial changes in the economics of immigration. Borjas 1999 and Massey, et al. 2002 both focus on economic consequences. Borjas examines effects on US workers and presents policy recommendations, while Massey and colleagues study the effects on Mexican workers. Written as both an “owner’s manual” and “repair manual,” the latter text cohesively documents the broader political history of the current US-Mexico migration system and persuasively urges reform. The edited volume Swain 2007 presents an exhaustive discussion of not only economic arguments, but also more general political debates about morals, laws, and race. Mittelstadt, et al. 2011 presents an updated view, addressing how immigration policy has evolved as part of national security debates following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

  • Borjas, George J. Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.

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    Borjas focuses on the economic effects of immigration on American workers since 1965. A top immigration economist, Borjas links his analysis to policy recommendations about the number of newcomers that should be allowed into the United States, as well as the criteria that should be used for these decisions.

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  • Chin, Gabriel J., and Rose Cuison Villazor, eds. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965: Legislating a New America. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

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    Assesses the significance of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and the law’s political, legal, and demographic legacy through an edited collection of pieces from scholars of law, political science, anthropology, and economics. Written at the 50th anniversary of the legislation, the volume provides an interdisciplinary, historical view that connects to issues in contemporary immigration studies.

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  • Massey, Douglas, Jorge Durand, and Nolan J. Malone. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2002.

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    Using data from the Mexican Migration Project, the authors present a critical assessment of the United States’ immigration policy in the 1980s and 1990s and explore those policies’ consequences for Mexican laborers, as well broader implications for Mexico and the United States. Overview of theoretical literature on migration in the second chapter is especially useful for students.

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  • Mittelstadt, Michelle, Burke Speaker, Doris Meissner, and Muzzafar Chishti. Through the Prism of National Security: Major Immigration Policy and Program Changes in the Decade since 9/11. MPI Fact Sheet. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute, 2011.

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    Report gives a broad but concise overview of the evolution of immigration policy following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The authors outline national security and enforcement concerns and some of the resulting institutional and policy changes.

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  • Schmidt, Ronald, Sr., Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh, Andrew L. Aoki, and Rodney E. Hero. Newcomers, Outsiders, and Insiders: Immigrants and American Racial Politics in the Twenty-First Century. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010.

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    Explores the ways in which contemporary immigrants from Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa influence the political representation of existing minority groups in the United States at the local, state, and national level. Authors focus on four different measures of political incorporation: participation, representation, membership in governing coalitions, and policies promoting egalitarianism. Book is well suited for graduate students studying immigration, racial-ethnic politics, or political participation.

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  • Swain, Carol M., ed. Debating Immigration. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    This edited volume tackles the multifaceted issue of immigration in the United States and Europe from scholars of differing political ideologies and multiple perspectives, including philosophy, religion, law, economics, and race. Swain’s volume does not shy away from tackling the ethical and religious dimensions in the contemporary debate around immigration.

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Social Welfare Spending and Immigrants

One of the main factors thought to drive contemporary debates over immigration policy is the question of social welfare spending. Should the government be spending tax dollars to provide social services for immigrants to the United States? Countering the traditional narrative of immigrants in the United States pulling themselves up “by their bootstraps,” Fox 2012 offers an extensive analysis of social service provision in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, emphasizing the importance of race/ethnicity and immigration in the varying ways that social welfare programs were administered during this time period. The contemporary debate over whether or not undocumented immigrants should have access to social services reemerged in the United States in the late 20th century. Despite the Supreme Court affirming undocumented immigrants’ access to public schools in 1982, this debate reemerged in 1994, as California voters cast ballots on Proposition 187, a popular referendum that sought to deny undocumented immigrants such access. To date, much of the literature on immigrant access to social services focuses on Proposition 187, and this research has made important contributions to our theoretical understanding of white and Latino responses to debates about immigrants and social welfare policy. García Bedolla 2005 offers an extensive treatment of Hispanic responses to this ballot initiative, and particularly the student-led protests that arose in response. While focusing specifically on Proposition 187, García Bedolla also contributes more generally to our understanding of the importance of immigrant generation in shaping Hispanic attitudes about immigration policy (see also citations under Public Opinion on Immigrants and Immigration). Jacobson 2008 presents an alternative perspective on Proposition 187, studying individuals who supported the referendum and their central arguments. In the process, Jacobson also evaluates the role of race/ethnicity in both the debate and approval of this referendum. While Proposition 187 was struck down in the courts, the debate over immigration and social services quickly shifted to the national level. In 1996 the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), commonly referred to as welfare reform, was enacted. Among other provisions, this law limited immigrant access to a number of social programs. As of 2017, the PRWORA was the last major change to the welfare program at the national level, and recent literature explores its contents, implementation, and effects. Fix 2009 offers a comprehensive treatment of the law. An opening chapter provides basic background information, while subsequent chapters explore a range of topics, including variation in the law’s implementation and the relationship between access to social welfare programs and Immigrant Incorporation. Both Fox 2004 and Hero and Preuhs 2007 contribute to our overall understanding of the ways in which attitudes about immigrants or racial and ethnic groups influence support for welfare. Fox 2004 uses data from before and after the enactment of the PRWORA, which also coincides with a significant increase in the Latino population in the United States. Connecting to existing research on the racialization of attitudes toward welfare, Fox finds that white attitudes about the work ethic of African Americans and Latinos significantly influence opinions about welfare, but that these shifts are also mitigated by racial and ethnic context. Hero and Preuhs 2007 examines an understudied provision in PRWORA, which allows states to decide whether or not to include—and fund—welfare benefits for immigrants. Specifically, they study what differentiates more inclusive states, and whether or not the benefits in these states are more generous. Finally, Krikorian 2008 provides an activist’s view against allowing immigrants to access social services, arguing that such spending represents significant costs for the American people.

  • Fix, Michael E., ed. Immigrants and Welfare: The Impact of Welfare Reform on America’s Newcomers. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2009.

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    This edited volume presents an exhaustive overview of questions related to the provisions in the 1996 welfare reform law that were designed to restrict immigrant access to social services, including extensive analysis of their consequences.

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  • Fox, Cybelle. “The Changing Color of Welfare? How Whites’ Attitudes toward Latinos Influence Support for Welfare.” American Journal of Sociology 110.3 (2004): 580–625.

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    Fox builds on earlier research that finds whites’ attitudes toward welfare are racialized, meaning that they are influenced by whites’ views about African Americans. She studies whether whites’ attitudes about African Americans and Latinos influence their support for welfare. While a relationship exists between white views about Latinos and their attitudes about welfare, she finds that this relationship varies based on an individual’s racial and ethnic context. Fox’s work connects to research on Public Opinion on Immigrants and Immigration, and in particular to scholarship emphasizing the primacy of cultural attitudes (for instance, Citrin, et al. 1997, cited under Public Opinion on Immigrants and Immigration).

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  • Fox, Cybelle. Three Worlds of Relief: Race, Immigration, and the American Welfare State from the Progressive Era to the New Deal. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012.

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    This book presents a systematic analysis of early social welfare policy in the United States, exploring the ways in which immigration status and race influenced the provision of social services during the Progressive Era and the New Deal.

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  • García Bedolla, Lisa. Fluid borders: Latino Power, Identity and Politics in Los Angeles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

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    García Bedolla studies the reactions of two Los Angeles communities to the Proposition 187 debate and the protests that emerged in response to this ballot initiative. Her research also highlights varied reactions to this policy debate within the Latino community, with particular emphasis on immigrant generation as a factor underlying responses to this proposal.

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  • Hero, Rodney E., and Robert R. Preuhs. “Immigration and the Evolving American Welfare State: Examining Policies in the U. S. States.” American Journal of Political Science 51.3 (2007): 498–517.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2007.00264.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hero and Preuhs examine the effects of a provision in the 1996 welfare reform bill that allowed states to choose whether or not to use their own funds for immigrants’ welfare needs. As with Fox 2004, the authors connect to literature on racialized attitudes about welfare. They ask why, following welfare reform, some states would chose to include immigrants in the program at their own expense, even though federal law does not require them to do so. The authors find that more liberal states are more likely to include immigrants, but are also more likely to have less generous benefits when participants include large numbers of immigrants. The article includes a brief synopsis of key provisions in the PRWORA, and will be of particular interest to public policy scholars who seek to understand variation in state-level policy implementation.

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  • Jacobson, Robin Dale. The New Nativism: Proposition 187 and the Debate over Immigration. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

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    In contrast to García Bedolla 2005, which focuses primarily on Latino responses to Proposition 187, Jacobson presents the perspective of individuals advocating for the referendum, exploring the role of race and racial formation in this debate. This book can also be seen as a case study of the Anti-immigrant Backlash.

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  • Krikorian, Mark. The New Case against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal. New York: Sentinel, 2008.

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    In this book, Krikorian, Executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), presents a range of arguments advocating restrictions on immigration in the United States. In particular, chapter 5 focuses on the costs of immigration, looking specifically at immigrants and social spending. Accessibly written, this chapter explains this perspective for undergraduate students.

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English-Only Policy

Since the early 1980s, there has been a push for English-only legislation at both the state and national level. Linton 2009 presents a concise overview of these debates over language policy. Tatalovich 1995 is the first book to focus extensively on the English-only movement, examining variation in state-level policies that emerged beginning in the 1980s. Later work seeks to understand how the debate over English-only language policy fits into conceptualizations of national identity. Both Schmidt 2000 and Schildkraut 2005 connect these questions to our understanding of what it means to be American, exploring how the boundaries of US citizenship and being American influence attitudes about language policy.

  • Linton, April. “Language Politics and Policy in the United States: Implications for the Immigration Debate.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 199 (2009): 9–37.

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    Helpful introductory piece on a range of questions related to language politics. Presents a concise overview of language policy debates in the United States, including the Official English and English Plus movements, language and education policy, and the linguistic and cultural incorporation of immigrants.

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  • Schildkraut, Deborah. Press “ONE” for English: Language policy, public Opinion, and American Identity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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    Building on Schmidt 2000, Schildkraut connects attitudes about language policy in the United States to larger debates about what it means to be American. She develops the idea of an incorporationist perspective. In contrast to the classic assimilation approach, in which newcomers eventually lose connections to their home country, this perspective emphasizes that even as immigrants adapt to American life, they may also maintain their own ethnic or cultural values.

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  • Schmidt, Ronald. Language Policy and Identity Politics in the United States. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.

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    Schmidt focuses on three different dimensions of the English policy debate—bilingual education, access to government services, and making English the official language of the United States—presenting both a normative and a historical analysis of language politics in the United States. He also artfully links the debate over language policy to broader debates in American culture about the content of national identity.

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  • Tatalovich, Raymond. Nativism Reborn? The Official English Language Movement and the American States. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1995.

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    Written in the early 1990s, when English-only policies were a relatively new emergence on the political scene, Tatalovich seeks to understand why some states have adopted English-only policies while others have not.

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Undocumented Immigrants and DREAMers

In 2012, 11.4 million immigrants lived in the United States without legal status, according to Baker and Rytina 2013, a report from the Department of Homeland Security detailing the demographics of this population. Chavez 2012 focuses on the personal experiences of undocumented immigrants during their transitions and incorporations into new communities in southern California. Urrea 2005 details the dangers in crossing the US-Mexico border through the experiences of a group of men who attempted to cross a perilous section of desert. Aptekar 2015 analyzes the process of becoming an American citizen and the racial and class barriers in the naturalization process. In addition to general research on the undocumented population, a growing body of scholarship looks specifically at the experiences of approximately five million young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents. This group is commonly known as DREAMers, so-named because of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. This legislation, first introduced in Congress in 2001 and reintroduced several times thereafter, would grant residency to unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the United States before age sixteen and meet certain qualifications. Nicholls 2013 details the DREAMer movement and the role of young activists in the struggle for immigrant rights. After several failed attempts to advance the DREAM Act through Congress, in 2012 the Obama administration implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which defers the deportation of certain young undocumented residents. Wong, et al. 2013 describes the first year of implementing the DACA program and its challenges. Chávez, et al. 2015 explores the experiences of young, undocumented immigrants navigating the DACA program and the racialized political context created by the current immigration debate. Future scholarship will likely continue to follow these topics, as DACA faces legal and political challenges.

  • Aptekar, Sofya. The Road to Citizenship: What Naturalization Means for Immigrants and the United States. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015.

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    Aptekar’s work explores the process of naturalization, drawing on quantitative Census data, qualitative data from naturalization ceremonies, and interviews with nearly seventy immigrants in the naturalization process. The book gives a detailed explanation of the naturalization process and assesses the ways in which class and racial inequities serve as barriers to citizenship.

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  • Baker, Bryan, and Nancy Rytina. Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2012. Washington, DC: US Department of Homeland Security, 2013.

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    Official estimation of the number of immigrants living in the United States without legal status as of 2012. The report includes trends in the demographics of unauthorized immigrants and describes the methodology for how the number of unauthorized immigrants is obtained. Typically updated every few years, and commonly cited by academics and practitioners.

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  • Chavez, Leo R. Shadowed Lives: Undocumented Immigrants in American Society. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning, 2012.

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    The third edition of this anthropology text explores the motivations, concerns, and strategies of undocumented immigrants in San Diego County. Through interviews and fieldwork, Chavez helps connect the scholarship to the lived experiences of these immigrants. Using undocumented immigrants’ own voices, Chavez critically examines the conditions and challenges of their situations, as well as some of the many barriers that they face.

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  • Chávez, Maria, Jessica L. Lavariega Monforti, and Melissa R. Michelson. Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2015.

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    While Chavez 2012 focuses on the lives of undocumented workers, in this book, Chávez and her coauthors document the lives of an inspiring group of DREAMers as they transition to adulthood. Their work links the challenges of undocumented Latino youth to exclusionary US immigration policy by using assimilation theory and the racialization of immigration and Latinos as conceptual frameworks.

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  • Nicholls, Walter J. The DREAMers: How the Undocumented Youth Movement Transformed the Immigrant Rights Debate. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.

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    Nicholls investigates how undocumented youth activists formed organizations and networks to develop their political voice and push for the passage of the DREAM Act. He details the process by which they were able to craft their voice in a politically hostile environment in southern California. Students interested in activism will find this book interesting and useful in understanding how political campaigns are organized.

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  • Urrea, Luis Alberto. The Devil’s Highway: A True Story. New York: Back Bay, 2005.

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    Written by a journalist, The Devil’s Highway tells the story of a group of men who attempted to cross the US-Mexico border through the Arizona dessert. In an accessible narrative, Urrea details the multiple dangers the men faced, including the US Border Patrol, vigilantes, coyotes, and the natural environment. Useful particularly in undergraduate courses to humanize undocumented migration when studying Law Enforcement and Border Security.

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  • Wong, Tom K., Angela S. García, Marisa Abrajano, David FitzGerald, Karthick Ramakrishnan, and Sally Le. Undocumented No More: A Nationwide Analysis of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, 2013.

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    Helpful report from the Center for American Progress that concisely summarizes the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The authors examine the implementation of the DACA program in its first year. This report could be assigned alongside Chávez, et al. 2015 or Nicholls 2013 in a unit on undocumented youth.

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Detention and Deportation Policy

Two laws in 1996, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), had the combined effect of dramatically increasing the number of immigrants detained and deported in the United States. More recently, contention over a record number of deportations and mounting criticisms about the conditions in immigration detention facilities have reinvigorated debate in this policy arena, as well as in Law Enforcement and Border Security. Wong 2015 explores how different countries’ immigration control policies emerge as a complex function of political and institutional contexts. Like many authors in this field, Wong is skeptical of whether immigration control policies achieve their intended goal of deterring unwanted immigration. Golash-Boza 2012 continues this line of criticism and argues that the detention and deportation policies of the United States fail to adequately protect human rights. Both Golash-Boza 2012 and Kanstroom 2012 research the effects of deportation on individuals and communities. Kanstroom 2012 offers a legal perspective on the issue, with potential policy solutions to what the author views as significant flaws in the deportation system. De Genova and Peutz 2010, an interdisciplinary edited volume, offers case studies of the practices and experiences of deportation in a number of countries, including the United States, and assesses how deportation is a form of state social control.

  • De Genova, Nicholas, and Nathalie Peutz, eds. The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.

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    The Deportation Regime is an interdisciplinary, edited volume that engages the issue of deportation as a mechanism of state control and sovereignty. The collection focuses on different geographic areas across the world. Comparative focus helps explore the global consequences of deportation.

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  • Golash-Boza, Tanya Maria. Immigration Nation: Raids, Detentions, and Deportations in Post-9/11 America. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2012.

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    Golash-Boza contends that US immigration policies create an “immigration industrial complex” that is unnecessarily punitive and a violation of human rights. Immigration Nation discusses the devastating impacts the increased immigration control efforts have had on immigrant communities. Like Chavez 2012 (cited under Undocumented Immigrants and DREAMers), Golash-Boza explores the personal ramifications of unauthorized immigration. The human rights perspective Golash-Boza uses poses an important ethical frame to the contemporary immigration policy debate concerning the rights of those detained and deported.

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  • Kanstroom, Daniel. Aftermath: Deportation Law and the New American Diaspora. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199742721.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In an attempt to understand how deportation works within “the rule of law,” Kanstroom combines legal research with personal narratives of those impacted by the US deportation system. This book builds on his previous work (Deportation Nation, 2010) to offer nuanced policy proposals to reform what he believes to be systemic flaws in the deportation system. This text would be particularly worthwhile for upper-level undergraduates interested in pursuing immigration law or advocacy, alongside Law 2010 (cited under General Overview) or Bohmer and Shuman 2008 (under Refugee and Asylum Policy).

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  • Wong, Tom. Rights, Deportation, and Detention in the Age of Immigration Control. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804793063.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Wong’s book takes a broad approach to the different dynamics at play in detention and deportation policy, ranging from questions concerning the human rights of migrants to the purpose of restrictive immigration control. Useful for those interested in cross-national work, as the scope is particularly notable in its span of twenty-five countries, including the United States and most of the countries in the European Union, over a ten-year period. Appropriate for graduate students.

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Law Enforcement and Border Security

Concerns over national security and the integrity of the US-Mexico border remain central to some in the heated policy debate over immigration reform and enforcement. Nevins 2002 provides useful historical background to understanding the politics of the US-Mexico border and the policy efforts in the 1990s to deter unauthorized border crossings by the US Border Patrol. Seghetti, et al. 2004, a report to Congress, extend Nevins’s historical coverage, detailing the ways the terrorist attacks on September 11 changed immigration enforcement efforts. Their report addresses the ongoing debate over the proper role of law enforcement, particularly at the state and local level, in assisting in immigration enforcement. Both Provine, et al. 2016 and Lewis and Ramakrishnan 2007 explore the factors that motivate the involvement of local law enforcement and assess the different ways law enforcement offices tackle this issue. Enforcement efforts also raise questions concerning homeland security and national sovereignty. Working across many of the traditional political science subfields, scholarly works such as LeMay 2006 and Rudolph 2006 have explored how the state has constructed its enforcement mechanisms as part of its national security efforts. Andreas 2000 looks specifically at the buildup of enforcement efforts at the US-Mexico border and its impact on preventing transnational illicit trade.

  • Andreas, Peter. Border Games: Policing the U. S. Mexico Divide. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.

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    With the escalation of policing efforts at the US-Mexico border, Andreas’s political economy approach focuses particularly on efforts to stem illegal drug trafficking and illegal migration at the border. He argues that as a result of globalization and economic integration, border security is largely a ceremonial “game” to assert national sovereignty. Of interest to students at all levels interested in the ways countries patrol their international borders.

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  • LeMay, Michael C. Guarding the Gates: Immigration and National Security. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006.

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    LeMay’s book is useful in providing a long-term, historical perspective on the relationship between immigration and national security. He highlights the constants of economics, race, nationalism, and foreign policy concerns in the immigration policy process across different eras of US immigration history. Comprehensive in scope, this book is an excellent resource for undergraduate and graduate classes alike.

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  • Lewis, Paul G., and S. Karthick Ramakrishnan. “Police Practices in Immigrant-Destination Cities.” Urban Affairs Review 42.6 (2007): 874–900.

    DOI: 10.1177/1078087407300752Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using surveys of police chiefs in California and interviews in three California cities, this article explores how local law enforcement sets local policy regarding immigrants. The authors find that local police agencies develop mostly supportive practices toward immigrants as part of their role as bureaucrats.

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  • Nevins, Joseph. Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Remaking of the U. S.-Mexico Boundary. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Nevins explores the buildup of the US-Mexico border as part of the politics of American state-building. The quest to protect the US border, through Operation Gatekeeper and other developments in the 1990s, is linked to the broader question of who has the right to be in the United States. Nevins delivers a helpful political history of the concept of “illegal migrants,” which complements works such as Ngai 2004 (cited under Historical Perspectives before 1965) and Newton 2008 (under Anti-immigrant Backlash).

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  • Provine, Doris Marie, Monica W. Varsanyi, Paul G. Lewis, and Scott H. Decker. Policing Immigrants: Local Law Enforcement on the Front Lines. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226363219.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Policing Immigrants reviews the evolution of the role of local law enforcement in immigration enforcement. While immigration enforcement has traditionally been a federal responsibility, given the increased devolution of immigration policing to the local level, the authors seek to understand the patchwork system of local law enforcements’ involvement in immigration. Provine and coauthors show that the variation in local law enforcement involvement in immigration is largely due to the level of conservatism among local voters. Policing Immigrants provides a critical guide to the history of immigration federalism and its current practice, and the authors present academics and practitioners with a number of useful recommendations at the end.

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  • Rudolph, Christopher. National Security and Immigration. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.

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    In his examination of four case studies from western Europe and the United States, Rudolph explores the complex position of the state in immigration policy in light of national security concerns. This work adds an important dimension of international politics to the field of immigration policy.

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  • Seghetti, Lisa M., Stephen R. Vina, and Karma Ester. Enforcing Immigration Law: The Role of State and Local Law Enforcement. CRS Report 32270. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2004.

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    This report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reviews efforts to involve state and local law agencies in immigration enforcement after the September 11 attacks through the mid-2000s. The report includes a concise, helpful section detailing both the pros and cons of whether state and local law enforcement officials should be involved in enforcing immigration law.

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State and Local Policies

In recent years, an increasing number of states and municipalities have passed policies regulating immigration as a response to perceived inaction at the federal level. Gulasekaram and Ramakrishnan 2015 discuss the different ways these policies interact with national laws as part of what scholars have termed “immigration federalism.” As Varsanyi 2010 shows, these state and local policies vary in their approaches and include policies that are both friendly and hostile toward immigrants. Hopkins 2010 explores the factors that underlie this variation in local politics, finding that municipalities are more likely to have a hostile response to immigrants in what he deems “politicized places.” Longazel 2016 documents the political history of one city’s particularly infamous set of anti-immigrant ordinances, in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. On the other side of the spectrum, De Graauw 2016 shows how local organizations, particularly nonprofits, engaged in advocacy work can achieve success in enacting pro-immigrant policies.

  • De Graauw, Els. Making Immigrant Rights Real: Nonprofits and the Politics of Integration in San Francisco. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016.

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    In contrast to the case study presented by Longazel, in which local-level politicians worked to exclude immigrants, De Graauw presents an outlier case on the other end of the spectrum, describing the efforts to make San Francisco an immigrant-friendly community. She focuses on the advocacy roles of local nonprofit organizations engaged in local politics to improve immigrants’ rights. Her work examines three local policy arenas relevant for immigrants: language access, labor rights, and municipal ID cards. She demonstrates how nonprofits can achieve success through a tripartite model of administrative advocacy, collaboration efforts, and strategic issue framing.

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  • Gulasekaram, Pratheepan, and S. Karthick Ramakrishnan. The New Immigration Federalism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781316282410Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Gulasekaram and Ramakrishnan present a new way to understand the evolution of state and local laws dealing with unauthorized immigrants, which connects state and national policies in a process of immigration federalism.

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  • Hopkins, Daniel J. “Politicized Places: Explaining Where and When Immigrants Provoke Local Opposition.” American Political Science Review 104.1 (2010): 40–60.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0003055409990360Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hopkins presents an updated, nuanced view of the racial threat theory, which suggests that individuals feel politically and economically threatened in areas with a growing, large immigrant population, and thus hold negative attitudes. Drawing on data from multiple surveys and local anti-immigrant policies, Hopkins shows that hostile reactions to immigrants occur in politicized places, communities that experience a sudden influx of immigrants during salient national political debates. Hopkins’s book connects to other research emphasizing the role of cultural threat in shaping Public Opinion on Immigrants and Immigration.

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  • Longazel, Jamie. Undocumented Fears: Immigration and the Politics of Divide and Conquer in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2016.

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    In 2006, Hazelton, Pennsylvania gained national notoriety as one of the leaders in the local restrictive policy movement aimed at immigrants. While Hopkins 2010 presents an overview of local-level anti-immigrant policies, Undocumented Fears presents a specific case study of one such policy, focusing on a high-profile example. Longazel traces the history of the debate surrounding Hazelton’s “Illegal Immigration Relief Act,” and provides insights into the role that racial and economic fears played in the adoption of this exclusionary immigration policy.

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  • Varsanyi, Monica W., ed. Taking Local Control: Immigration Policy Activism in U. S. Cities and States. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.

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    Utilizing case studies from across the United States, this interdisciplinary volume explores the recent explosion in state and local immigration policy activism. To help broaden our understanding of immigration devolution and federalism, the contributors examine the formation and implementation of policies that are both pro- and anti-immigrant.

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Refugee and Asylum Policy

In a globalized world marred with conflicts, the number of refugees has increased dramatically. The Immigration and Nationality Act defines a refugee as someone who is outside of their home country and is either “unable or unwilling” to return because of “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Refugees apply for admission to the United States from abroad and must undergo a lengthy screening process that typically lasts 18–24 months before admission; an individual who meets the definition of a refugee, but applies for protection while already in the United States, is called an asylee. US refugee and asylum policy originally developed largely to protect individuals fleeing Communist and repressive regimes. Zucker 1983 examines the evolution of this policy from ad hoc programs for specific countries into the current framework established by the Refugee Act of 1980. This act created the refugee resettlement program, through which the federal government collaborates with state and local governments and nonprofit organizations to help refugees become self-sufficient, supporting a range of programs, including English training and employment assistance. Chambers 2017 presents a contemporary view on the resettlement process, focusing on two Somali refugee communities to explore their differing political and social incorporation experiences. Both Black 2011 and Hatton 2009 focus on international trends, including the causes and consequences of displaced peoples and policies governing refugees. In a reflection on the field of refugee studies, Black 2011 argues that scholars have failed to translate their findings into substantive policy changes but makes suggestions for avenues of future research. Hatton also examines policies in receiving countries and their effects on asylum applications. As of 2016, the United States admitted more refugees than any other nation, with caps on the number of refugees and asylum-seekers set annually by the president in consultation with Congress. Yet, as political debate over the topic persists, the United States’ refugee and asylum policies have been widely criticized by scholars and activists in the field, particularly regarding the selectivity in US refugee policy. Teitelbaum and Weiner 2002 and Espiritu 2014 emphasize foreign policy aspects of debates over refugee policy. Growing out of a conference aimed at policymakers, Teitelbaum and Weiner 2002 responds to a series of international migration crises in the 1990s. This work assesses how best to handle the humanitarian challenges and national security threats for refugees and asylum seekers. Writing from an ethnic studies perspective, Espiritu takes a far more critical view, arguing that refugee policies construct ideas about the types of political systems from which individuals should flee, and the types of systems in which they should seek refuge. Both Ramji-Nogales, et al. 2011 and Bohmer and Shuman 2008 evaluate the process of determining refugee status and find frustrations in the arbitrariness of the administrators and other variables throughout the process. As scholars continue to develop research in this field, important methodological concerns also arise. Mackenzie, et al. 2007 discusses the ethical considerations of research in this area.

  • Black, Richard. “Fifty Years of Refugee Studies: From Theory to Policy.” The International Migration Review 35.1 (Spring 2011): 57–78.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2001.tb00004.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    From a special issue on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this article reviews the increase in scholarly work on refugees and looks at its impact on refugee policy. This work is a useful starting place for scholars interested in better understanding the growing body of research on refuges.

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  • Bohmer, Carol, and Amy Shuman. Rejecting Refugees: Political Asylum in the 21st Century. New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    Includes a useful overview of the asylum process in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The authors challenge the current system’s emphasis on the identity and credibility of applicants, as well as the need for proof of persecution, and argue that cultural differences result in additional challenges during the asylum process. The book also pays attention to the role of gender, and details the specific challenges faced by female asylum-seekers. Of particular interest to legal scholars as well as individuals interested in gendered differences among refugees.

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  • Chambers, Stefanie. Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2017.

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    Chambers explores the process of political and social incorporation of Somali refugees in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and Columbus, Ohio. This work expands the Immigrant Incorporation literature to focus on refugees, looking to explain how the Somali communities in the Twin Cities are doing better than those in Columbus.

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  • Espiritu, Yen Le. Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es). Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520277700.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focusing on the Vietnamese community in the United States, this book emphasizes that refugee policy cannot be detached from US foreign policy. Espiritu argues that portrayals of this community as “rescued” or “liberated” have been used to justify the United States’ failed military actions during the war in Vietnam and to recast our understanding of this conflict. Charting the journey of “militarized refuge(es)” from refugee camps to the United States, Espiritu also emphasizes the diversity within the Vietnamese diaspora in the United States, as well as their widely varied incorporation experiences.

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  • Hatton, Timothy J. “The Rise and Fall of Asylum: What Happened and Why?” The Economic Journal 119.535 (2009): F183–F213.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2008.02228.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hatton’s article provides an excellent overview of global trends in asylum applications from 1980 until the early 2000s. The article is a good introduction to existing research on the factors that cause people to seek asylum, particularly for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Hatton’s analysis also extends this scholarship, with a focus on country-level factors that drive migration, as well as policies enacted by host countries that are likely to reduce the volume of asylum applications.

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  • Mackenzie, Catriona, Christopher McDowell, and Eileen Pittaway. “Beyond ‘Do No Harm’: The Challenge of Constructing Ethical Relationships in Refugee Research.” Journal of Refugee Studies 20.2 (2007): 299–319.

    DOI: 10.1093/jrs/fem008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article highlights some of the important ethical challenges of conducting research with refugees and ways to consider a scholar’s relationship to his or her research subjects, which could assist graduate students beginning work in this field.

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  • Ramji-Nogales, Jaya, Andrew I. Schoenholtz, and Philip G. Schrag. Refugee roulette: Disparities in asylum adjudication and proposals for reform. New York: New York University Press, 2011.

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    Book builds on an article that attracted popular attention for its concept of “refugee roulette,” which refers to the arbitrariness of the process of refugee status determination. Clearly written and accessible, the authors present a helpful overview of the many steps in the adjudication process for asylum claims. They emphasize the ways in which decisions by specific individuals—from asylum officers to immigration judges to circuit courts—can significantly influence the chance of success for asylum claims at different points in this process. Opens with a foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), who connects the book’s findings to arguments for policy reform. The authors propose a number of specific recommendations to this end in chapter 6.

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  • Teitelbaum, Michael S., and Myron Weiner, eds. Threatened Peoples, Threatened Borders: World Migration & U. S. Policy. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002.

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    A number of distinguished scholars and policymakers contributed to this edited volume, which broadly addresses the multifaceted policy challenges of international migration involving refugees. In contrast to Zucker 1983 and Chambers 2017, which focus on the incorporation of refugees into the United States, this book studies refugees from an international perspective. Chapters emphasize the reciprocal relationship between domestic and foreign policy, including discussions of national security, humanitarian concerns, and border enforcement. Contains specific foreign policy recommendations, many of which share the goal of reducing the number of forced migrants.

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  • Zucker, Norman L. “Refugee Resettlement in the United States: Policy and Problems.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 467 (1983): 172–186.

    DOI: 10.1177/0002716283467001013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses the historical development of federal resettlement policy, which emerged out of a series of ad hoc programs that developed during the Cold War era, and details the transformation of these policies into the Refugee Act of 1980. Zucker describes key provisions in the act, including the creation of the Office of the US Coordinator for Refugee Affairs and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, as well as other efforts, programs, and challenges toward creating a unified federal policy for refugees.

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Demographic Trends

Broadly speaking, research on immigration and demographic trends focuses on questions related to where immigrants are settling and why. Portes and Rumbaut 2014 provides an impressive survey of these topics, incorporating a combination of data-driven research and descriptions of firsthand experiences in an engaging volume. Historically, immigrants in the United States have settled in traditional gateway communities, including California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. More recently, newcomers have expanded beyond these traditional settlement areas and into “new immigrant destinations,” referring to receiving communities in which the presence of immigrants is a much more recent phenomenon. Three excellent books focus specifically on the movement of immigrants into these new destinations. Massey’s definitive edited volume on this topic (Massey 2008) provides a blend of numerical data and qualitative accounts in a clear overview on the topic of new immigrant destinations. Marrow 2011 presents especially rich detail in an ethnographic account of the growth of the Latino population in two southern communities. A related work, Lay 2012, examines responses to Latino immigrants in two rural new immigrant communities. While much of the research on demographic trends focuses specifically on the Hispanic population, Junn and Haynie 2008 examines the ways in which shifting demographics influence identity politics in the United States both across and within racial and ethnic groups. Greer 2013 presents a different perspective, detailing the growth of Afro-Caribbean and African immigrants and their experiences. Connecting to research on Immigrant Incorporation, Kasinitz, et al. 2008 explores demographic trends among second-generation immigrants in New York.

  • Greer, Christina. Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199989300.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Greer examines the significance of race as it intersects with immigration. She provides new insight into the opinions and complex experiences of the increasing numbers of Afro-Caribbean and African migrants in the United States. Greer combines quantitative and qualitative methodologies to develop her theory of black elevated minority status, which suggests that black immigrants seek to attain an elevated status separate from their native-born black counterparts.

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  • Junn, Jane, and Kerry L. Haynie, eds. New Race Politics in America: Understanding Minority and Immigrant Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511790577Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume explores the changing demographics of the United States since the 1965 immigration reforms, and the ways in which this increasingly diverse population influences the shifting politics of race and ethnicity.

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  • Kasinitz, Philip, John H. Mollenkopf, Mary C. Waters, and Jennifer Holdaway, eds. Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

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    Presents an in-depth study of the lives of second-generation immigrants in New York. Using a number of indicators, the authors find that the children of immigrants are doing better than their parents.

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  • Lay, J. Celeste. A Midwestern Mosaic: Immigration and Political Socialization in Rural America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012.

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    Explores the impact of immigration and changing ethnic demographics on young people’s attitudes in rural communities in Iowa. Similar to Marrow 2011 and Massey 2008, Lay studies a nontraditional destination for immigrants. She uses a natural experiment, as two towns experienced an influx of immigrants and refugees from Asia and Latin America. She finds that young people in diverse communities have more favorable feelings toward immigrants and higher levels of civic engagement.

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  • Marrow, Helen. New Destination Dreaming: Immigration, Race, and Legal Status in the Rural American South. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.

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    One of the first studies to explore Hispanic immigrant experiences in the new or nontraditional destinations of immigrants: the rural South. Marrow’s work is a comparative ethnography of Hispanic immigrants in two counties in eastern North Carolina. Her case study approach compliments the edited volume Massey 2008.

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  • Massey, Douglas S., ed. New Faces in New Places: The Changing Geography of American Immigration. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2008.

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    Edited volume focusing specifically on “new immigrant destinations.” The first half of the book examines primarily where and why these new destinations emerged, while chapters in the second half explore immigrants’ experiences and responses within receiving communities.

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  • Portes, Alejandro, and Rubén G. Rumbaut. Immigrant America: A Portrait. 4th ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.

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    Extensive overview of demographic trends related to all aspects of contemporary immigration in the United States. Text is comprehensive and approachable, particularly the first chapter, which provides nine portraits of immigrants that may help personalize immigration policy discussions for students.

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Immigrant Incorporation

The questions of whether, how, and under what conditions immigrants incorporate into life in the United States are widely studied. Early research focused on the idea of assimilation, a now-controversial concept assuming that the incorporation of newcomers would happen naturally over time; in a process akin to a straight line, new immigrants would eventually lose the culture of their home country (see also Dahl 1961, under Historical Perspectives before 1965). Alba and Nee 2003 revisits the traditional assimilationist perspective, updating it to account for a diverse and multicultural America. Challenging the traditional assimilation paradigm, Gans 1992 argues that incorporation should be understood as a bumpy line rather than a straight one. Portes and Zhou 1993 presents another alternative approach, introducing the concept of segmented assimilation theory, which emphasizes that the interaction of characteristics such as race, socioeconomic status, and linguistic abilities can lead to varied types of incorporation. Brown and Bean 2006 presents an excellent overview of each of these approaches, synthesizing and contrasting the different theories. While much research about immigrant incorporation focuses on economic outcomes, a related stream of literature explores how immigrants see themselves. Waters 1990 argues that the descendants of early European immigrants take advantage of “ethnic options” to selectively maintain connections to their ancestral cultures, while Jiménez 2009 examines contextual differences between the incorporation of European immigrants and contemporary Latinos. The excellent edited volume Gerstle and Mollenkopf 2001 describes a range of issues faced by immigrants as they incorporate into American life, comparing the incorporation of early European and contemporary immigrants. Rogers 2006 presents an alternative perspective on immigrant incorporation through a focus on the Afro-Caribbean experience.

  • Alba, Richard D., and Victor Nee. Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.4159/9780674020115Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Builds on earlier work by Alba and Nee to argue the utility of a revised version of assimilation theory in understanding the integration of contemporary immigrants into the United States.

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  • Brown, Susan K., and Frank D. Bean. “Assimilation Models, Old and New: Explaining a Long‐Term Process.”Migration Information Source (1 October 2006).

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    This concise and accessible article presents a helpful overview of different models of immigrant assimilation in the United States. Brown and Bean explain the evolution of this literature, highlighting connections between Alba and Nee 2003, Gans 1992, Portes and Zhou 1993, and other notable scholarship in line with these theoretical approaches.

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  • Gans, Herbert J. “Comment: Ethnic Invention and Acculturation: A Bumpy-Line Approach.” Journal of American Ethnic History 12.1 (1992): 42–52.

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    Gans critiques the classic assimilationist paradigm, which envisions a straight line of incorporation by immigrants into the United States. Alternatively, Gans argues that incorporation should be viewed as a “bumpy line,” in which progress is made but is balanced by differing circumstances. Countering the assimilationist idea of immigrants losing their original culture, he also argues that even later generation immigrants may seek to maintain “symbolic ethnicity.”

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  • Gerstle, Gary, and John Mollenkopf, eds. E Pluribus Unum?: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Immigrant Political Incorporation. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2001.

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    This interdisciplinary edited volume presents a historical perspective on immigrant incorporation, comparing contemporary experiences to those of European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chapters cover a wide range of topics, from political machines to demographic trends to transnationalism in the lives of immigrants past and present.

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  • Jiménez, Tomás. Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

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    Presents another alternative view to the classic assimilation model. Jiménez argues that because of the introduction of immigration restrictions in the 1920s, early European immigrants adapted to life in the United States without an influx of new arrivals. In contrast, contemporary immigrants, particularly Mexicans and others of Hispanic descent, live in a context of immigrant “replenishment,” with the continuing influx of newcomers influencing the incorporation of these immigrants across generations.

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  • Portes, Alejandro, and Min Zhou. “The New Second Generation: Segmented Assimilation and its Variants.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 530 (1993): 74–96.

    DOI: 10.1177/0002716293530001006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Outlines the concept of segmented assimilation, detailing the ways that this concept challenges the traditional assimilation model. This article and subsequent books present an alternative perspective to that presented in Alba and Nee 2003.

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  • Rogers, Reuel Reuben. Afro-Caribbean Immigrants and the Politics of Incorporation: Ethnicity, Exception, or Exit. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511606694Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the role of race in the incorporation process and political behavior of Afro-Caribbean immigrants in New York City. Includes a clear presentation of different theories of political incorporation in the first chapter that would be useful for undergraduates and graduate students early in their career. Could also be used alongside Greer 2013 (cited under Demographic Trends) to focus specifically on the distinct experiences of Afro-Caribbean immigrants.

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  • Waters, Mary. Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

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    Countering the assimilationist idea that later-generation immigrants completely lose their cultural roots, Waters further develops the idea of selective, or optional, ethnicity. Through a range of qualitative interviews with third- and fourth-generation white ethnics in California and Pennsylvania, she finds that later-generation immigrants choose whether and when to maintain connections to ethnic groups and symbols. Also connects to her co-authored work on second-generation immigrants (see Kasinitz, et al. 2008, under Demographic Trends).

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Political Participation and Partisanship

While research on immigrant incorporation focuses on the ways in which newcomers adapt to American life, a related body of literature specifically examines the political participation and partisanship of immigrants. Early accounts placed political parties and, in particular, political machines at the heart of efforts to incorporate certain groups of European immigrants and foster their political participation (see Dahl 1961, under Historical Perspectives before 1965). Erie 1988 emphasizes the centrality of machines and party bosses in mobilizing Irish newcomers to participate in US politics, while others have challenged the primacy given to political machines (for instance, see Sterne’s chapter in Gerstle and Mollenkopf 2001, under Immigrant Incorporation). Contemporary literature emphasizes that today’s parties do not actively promote participation by new arrivals, and also seeks to understand other factors that encourage or discourage political participation among immigrants in the United States. Leighley and Vedlitz 1999, a notable article, tests different theories of political participation to see whether they apply across racial and ethnic groups, while Lee, et al. 2006 provides an up-to-date perspective on a wide range of topics addressing the mobilization and participation of immigrants in the United States. Jones-Correa 1999 presents an ethnographic account to better understand low participation rates among Latinos in New York, with a particular focus on gendered differences. As an alternative to political parties, Wong 2006 focuses on the role of civic organizations to incorporate contemporary newcomers and mobilize them politically. The edited volume Ramakrishnan and Bloemraad 2008 builds on this emphasis, presenting comparative case studies that examine the work of a wide range of civic organizations mobilizing immigrants in varied contexts. The declining role of political parties in assisting newcomers is also associated with low levels of partisan identification, particularly among Asian Americans and Latinos. Hajnal and Lee 2011 presents an important contribution to our understanding of the relationship between political partisanship and race/ethnicity by introducing the concept of non-identifiers to explain these low levels of partisanship. While much literature on participation focuses on US citizens, Hayduk 2006 takes a different perspective, studying the question of voting rights of noncitizens.

  • Erie, Steven P. Rainbow’s End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics, 1840–1985. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

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    Describes the role of political machines in promoting the participation of European immigrants, arguing that they operated unevenly across cities and ethnic groups. Erie contends that machines were primarily an Irish phenomenon, and did little to incorporate immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.

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  • Hajnal, Zoltan, and Taeku Lee. Why Americans Don’t Join the Party: Race, Immigration, and the Failure (of Political Parties) to Engage the Electorate. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011.

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    Hajnal and Lee seek to understand variation in political partisanship by race and ethnicity. They theorize that partisan identification is a two-stage process, with individuals first deciding whether or not to identify with a party, and then deciding whether to choose between Democrats and Republicans. They find that many Asian Americans and Latinos opt to be non-identifiers, explaining the low levels of political partisanship within these groups.

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  • Hayduk, Ronald. Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Hayduk presents a thorough history of noncitizen voting in the United States, advocating for the inclusion of noncitizens in the political process as an issue of fairness. Hayduk looks at jurisdictions where noncitizen voting is allowed, in places such as Maryland and Chicago, and details several modern campaigns to restore the right of immigrant noncitizens to vote.

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  • Jones-Correa, Michael. Between Two Nations: The Political Predicament of Latinos in New York City. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.

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    Examines the low rates of political participation among Latin American immigrants and finds that the failure to encourage immigrants to participate and the requirement that they must renounce their native country’s citizenship stymies their political engagement. Also explores gendered differences in political participation, making the book of particular interest to students and scholars interested in how Latinas participate politically.

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  • Lee, Taeku, S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, and Ricardo Ramírez, eds. Transforming Politics, Transforming America: The Political and Civic Incorporation of Immigrants in the United States. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006.

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    Focusing on immigrants arriving since 1965, this edited volume includes contributions from scholars in political science and sociology, examining immigrant demographics, incorporation, mobilization, and political participation. Explores a wide range of questions, including how immigrants are redefining the traditional black-white paradigm of racial relations in the United States the meaning and acquisition of citizenship and the cultural and political incorporation of Latino and Asian immigrants. Provides a helpful introduction to these themes for undergraduate students.

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  • Leighley, Jan E., and Arnold Vedlitz. “Race, Ethnicity, and Political Participation: Competing Models and Contrasting Explanations.” The Journal of Politics 61.4 (1999): 1092–1114.

    DOI: 10.2307/2647555Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    First article to test a range of theories about political participation across whites, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Using Texas data that includes oversamples of each racial/ethnic group, Leighley and Vedlitz find strong support for the importance of socioeconomic status and psychological indicators (e.g., political interest and sense of efficacy) in motivating participation across groups. They also find limited support for a relationship between group consciousness and participation across groups.

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  • Ramakrishnan, S. Karthick, and Irene Bloemraad, eds. Civic Hopes and Political Realities: Immigrants, Community Organizations, and Political Engagement. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2008.

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    Interdisciplinary volume bringing together experts from a range of fields to study the role of civic organizations on immigrants’ political incorporation and participation. Expanding on the work of Wong 2006, emphasizes variation based on a number of factors, including residential, political, and economic context; which ethnic groups are participating; and the type of civic organization involved. While case studies focus primarily on sub-national comparisons within the United States, several chapters also feature cross-national comparisons.

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  • Wong, Janelle S. Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.

    DOI: 10.3998/mpub.135048Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    As an alternative to the traditional work done by political parties to organize immigrants politically, Wong details the strengths and challenges of civic institutions, including labor unions, social service organizations, and religious institutions, which have increasingly taken on this role.

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Public Opinion on Immigrants and Immigration

Research on public opinion about immigration policy and politics is expansive, with much of this research focusing on factors that influence attitudes within the majority (white) population. Scholarship incorporates interdisciplinary perspectives, including ideas from political economy and social psychology. Hainmueller and Hopkins 2014 is an excellent starting point for understanding these different theoretical approaches. This review piece presents a detailed discussion of explanations focusing on both economic self-interest and cultural threat. With respect to economic self-interest, research asks two primary questions. First, at the individual level, will low-skilled workers feel a greater sense of threat from low-wage immigrants? Second, to what extent do broader macroeconomic concerns such as social welfare spending shape attitudes toward immigration policy? With respect to methodology, much of this research uses large-scale survey data. Consistent with this approach, Scheve and Slaughter 2001 test the economic perspective, finding that low-wage workers are most likely to oppose immigration across contexts. Increasingly, experimental research is also being conducted to test these different theories. For instance, Hainmueller and Hiscox 2010 use experimental data to challenge Scheve and Slaughter’s conclusions. Another school of thought argues that sociotropic cultural factors, such as those outlined in Huntington 2004 (cited under Anti-immigrant Backlash), drive opposition to immigration. Support for these ideas are vast. Citrin, et al. 1997 provides evidence that attitudes about immigrant groups shape attitudes about immigration policy, as do macroeconomic concerns. Using experimental data, Brader, et al. 2008 demonstrates the importance of ethnic cues, while Kinder and Kam 2010 provides an updated analysis of ethnocentrism, and of the ways in which ethnocentrism influences attitudes toward immigration policy and other policy areas. More recently, research has also begun to explore differences in immigration attitudes across and within racial/ethnic groups. Schildkraut 2010 and Masuoka and Junn 2013 both examine attitudes across groups, treating immigration policy as indicative of broader attitudes about inclusion and belonging in the United States. Research drawing on the Latino National Survey and the National Asian American Survey (both cited under Data Sources) explores variation within pan-ethnic groups.

  • Brader, Ted, Nicholas A. Valentino, and Elizabeth Suhay. “What Triggers Public Opposition to Immigration? Anxiety, Group Cues, and Immigration Threat.” American Journal of Political Science 52.4 (2008): 959–978.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00353.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focuses on the centrality of cultural threats and the role of the media in shaping immigration attitudes. The article describes two different experiments in which individuals were given fictional news stories about immigrants. Authors found that article tone and cues about ethnicity and skill-level can lead to negative emotional responses and anxiety.

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  • Citrin, Jack, Donald P. Green, Christopher Muste, and Cara Wong. “Public Opinion toward Immigration Reform: The Role of Economic Motivations.” Journal of Politics 59.3 (1997): 858–881.

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    Citrin and colleagues use data from the 1992 and 1994 American National Election Survey. They find limited support for the importance of individual-level economic factors such as job competition. Instead, they argue that macrolevel economic factors and attitudes about Latinos and Asians drive immigration policy preferences.

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  • Hainmueller, Jens, and Michael Hiscox. “Attitudes towards Highly Skilled and Low-Skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment.” American Political Science Review 104 (2010): 61–84.

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    Challenging the findings of Scheve and Slaughter 2001, Hainmueller and Hiscox conduct a survey experiment to examine the role of economic self-interest in immigration attitudes. Focusing both on job competition and concerns over social welfare spending, they find no relationship between a worker’s skill level and his or her attitudes about immigration policy. Rather, they find that individuals of all skill levels prefer high-skilled immigration, and that as an individual’s skill level increases, the person is more likely to support all types of immigration.

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  • Hainmueller, Jens, and Daniel J. Hopkins. “Public Attitudes toward Immigration.” Annual Review of Political Science 17 (2014): 225–249.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-polisci-102512-194818Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a comprehensive overview of the different schools of thought on factors associated with individual-level attitudes about immigrants and immigration policy. Focuses primarily on the United States but also includes some scholarship on European attitudes. Helpful starting point into the field for scholars and students alike.

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  • Kinder, Donald, and Wendy Kam. Us against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

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    Drawing on research from a range of fields, including social psychology and biogenetics, Kinder and Kam reaffirm the importance of ethnocentrism, or preferencing one’s in-group at the expense of out-groups. Using various measures of this concept, they explore the role of ethnocentrism in shaping attitudes toward immigration, as well as a wide range of other policy areas, including social welfare policy, gay marriage, and foreign assistance.

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  • Masuoka, Natalie, and Jane Junn. The Politics of Belonging: Race, Public Opinion, and Immigration. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226057330.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Similar to Schildkraut 2010, Masuoka and Junn argue that immigration policy is indicative of broader attitudes about who should be included in the United States. They underscore the importance of the “racial hierarchy,” which influences attitudes about both identity and immigration policy. Of interest to students of all levels interested in the role of race in immigration attitudes.

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  • Scheve, Kenneth F., and Matthew J. Slaughter. “Labor Market Competition and Individual Preferences over Immigration Policy.” Review of Economics and Statistics 83 (2001): 133–145.

    DOI: 10.1162/003465301750160108Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Similar to Citrin, et al. 1997, Slaughter and Scheve use data from the 1992, 1994, and 1996 American National Election Study. Yet the authors reach a different conclusion, presenting perhaps the strongest case for the economic threat argument. The authors find that low-skilled workers, measured by both income and education, are most likely to oppose high levels of immigration.

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  • Schildkraut, Deborah. Americanism in the Twenty-First Century: Public Opinion in the Age of Immigration. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511761249Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using original survey data collected in the Twenty-First Century Americanism Survey, Schildkraut explores attitudes about what it means to be America and who counts as American, and the ways that these views influence policy preferences both across, and to some extent within, racial/ethnic groups. Drawing on literature about racial resentment, chapter 7 develops the idea of immigrant resentment in order to explain attitudes about immigration policy. Also connects to Brader, et al. 2008, Kinder and Kam 2010, and literature on the racialization of social welfare.

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Anti-immigrant Backlash

While Public Opinion on Immigrants and Immigration addresses both economic and cultural arguments, the scholarship on the anti-immigrant backlash focuses primarily on the cultural perspective, cataloging work that addresses negative responses to immigrants and US immigration policy. Gerstle 2017 presents a historical perspective, tracing the role of civic and racial nationalism and highlighting the challenges faced by immigrants of varied backgrounds over the last century. In a contentious article and subsequent book, Huntington 2004 argues that contemporary immigrants threaten what it means to be American. In particular, Huntington is concerned with challenges to English as the dominant language in the United States, as well as Mexican immigration leading to the “Hispanization” of the southwestern United States. Fraga and Segura 2006 challenges Huntington on theoretical and historical grounds, while Citrin, et al. 2007 uses large-scale national survey data of Latinos to test claims that Latinos do not want to learn English or incorporate into the United States. Rather, this research demonstrates linguistic and cultural incorporation over time and generation. Chavez 2013 evaluates the media’s role in building the “threat” narrative advanced by Huntington. Newton 2008 reviews the historical development of policies hostile to immigrants and explores the role of political leaders in shaping immigration policy rhetoric. Abrajano and Hajnal 2015 contributes to our understanding of the anti-immigrant backlash with a comprehensive analysis of the ways in which the immigration debate influences white voters. Abrajano and Hajnal argue that immigration works as a wedge issue for many white voters, causing them to move away from the Democratic Party and toward the Republican Party.

  • Abrajano, Marisa, and Zoltan J. Hajnal. White Backlash: Immigration, Race, and American Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400866489Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    While much research highlights the importance of racial issues in defining political alignments and preferences, this scholarship traditionally focuses on black-white politics. Using a wide range of data and analysis, Abrajano and Hajnal advance the conversation about racial politics by demonstrating that attitudes about immigrants and immigration policy significantly influence the political preferences of white voters, pushing many such voters away from the Democratic Party.

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  • Chavez, Leo R. The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation. 2d ed. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.

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    Connecting to the ideas presented by Huntington 2004, anthropologist Chavez describes the media’s construction of a “Latino threat” narrative in their coverage of immigration politics. He counters this narrative, arguing that it objectifies and dehumanizes Latinos.

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  • Citrin, Jack, Amy Lerman, Michael Murakami, and Kathryn Pearson. “Testing Huntington: Is Hispanic Immigration a Threat to American Identity?” Perspectives on Politics 5.1 (2007): 31–48.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1537592707070041Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of a number of articles using empirical data to counter the arguments advanced by Huntington that Latinos are failing to assimilate and are challenging American values and culture. Using data from the US Census and public opinion surveys, the authors find that Latinos acquire English by the second generation, and that Latinos’ patriotism grows over generations.

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  • Fraga, Luis, and Gary Segura. “Culture Clash? Contesting Notions of American Identity and the Effects of Latin American Immigration.” Perspectives on Politics 4.2 (2006): 279–287.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1537592706060191Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In another response to Huntington 2004, Fraga and Segura assess the role of immigration in American national identity among the theoretical debates on civic culture. Offering a broader, more comprehensive view of American history, their work is a compliment to the empirical approach of Citrin, et al. 2007.

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  • Gerstle, Gary. American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017.

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    In this notable history text, first published in 2001, Gerstle underscores the complex interaction between civic ideals, such as liberty and equality (“civic nationalism”), and racial nationalism. Gerstle highlights historical patterns of xenophobia and racism, documenting the ways in which targets of ethnoracial discrimination have shifted over time, responding in part to debates over civic ideals. This nuanced text is accessibly written and provides useful historical context for contemporary debates.

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  • Huntington, Samuel P. Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.

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    Controversial book by political scientist Samuel Huntington, discussing immigration as a threat to America’s national identity. Huntington focuses on Mexican immigrants, arguing that they do not seek to learn the language, history, and values of the United States. He also summarizes key arguments of this book in an article, “The Hispanic Challenge,” published in Foreign Policy (March/April 2004, pp. 30–45). The work sparked a number of critical responses.

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  • Newton, Lina. Illegal, Alien, or Immigrant: The Politics of Immigration Reform. New York: New York University Press, 2008.

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    Focuses on the social construction of immigrants during the policymaking process, comparing the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which provided a path to citizenship for nearly three million immigrants, and the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA), a more punitive proposal limiting immigrants’ access to social welfare programs. Newton conducts extensive analysis of legislative debates and hearings in an analysis of interest to students of immigration policy and Congress.

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Immigrant Rights Movements

In the spring of 2006, an unprecedented wave of protests emerged across the United States in opposition to H. R. 4437, also known as the Sensenbrenner Bill. The legislation, which was passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in December 2005, contained a range of proposals that immigrants and their allies viewed as highly punitive, including construction of a nearly 700-mile wall along the US-Mexico border, and the classification of undocumented immigrants and anyone helping them to arrive or stay in the United States as felons. In opposition to the bill, an estimated 3.5–5.1 million people, mostly of Latino descent, took to the streets to protest. A range of literature seeks to understand who participated in the protests, why they participated, and what the effects were of these events. Beltrán 2010 presents a historical overview of Latino social movements over time, through the 2006 events. Beltrán emphasizes that even as Latino social movements strive to mobilize around a unified voice or message, significant variation persists within the Latino population. Focusing specifically on the 2006 events, Barreto, et al. 2009 seeks to understand who participated in the protests, and whether or not the Latino community was unified in their opposition to H. R. 4437. The edited volume Voss and Bloemraad 2011 presents the most comprehensive treatment available of the marches themselves, including extensive background on the events and the wide range of groups that organized them. The coincidence of the 2005–2006 Latino National Survey (cited under Data Sources) and the spring 2006 protests has also led to research studying the effects of these events on Latino attitudes and behavior. Because the survey was in the field before, during, and after the protests, some scholars have treated these events as a natural experiment, comparing Latino attitudes before and after these events. Silber Mohamed 2017 focuses on the framing of the 2006 protests, reflecting on their implications for Latino political incorporation. She finds that consistent with the “We are America” theme of the protests, individuals interviewed after these events are more likely to feel American than similar respondents interviewed before, but that differences in Latino attitudes about immigration policy persist. Articles by Wallace, et al. 2014 and Branton, et al. 2015 add geographical complexity to their analyses. Wallace and colleagues highlight the importance of protest intensity and size in influencing political attitudes, while Branton, et al. studies the relationship between proximity to protests and Latino public opinion on immigration policy.

  • Barreto, Matt, Sylvia Manzano, Ricardo Ramírez, and Kathy Rim. “Immigrant Social Movement Participation: Understanding Involvement in the 2006 Immigration Protest Rallies.” Urban Affairs Review 44 (2009): 736–764.

    DOI: 10.1177/1078087409332925Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research, Barreto and colleagues seek to understand who participated in the 2006 protests and why. In contrast to many who argue that the protests were primarily a Mexican affair, they demonstrate that participation within the Latino community was broad, including undocumented immigrants and a wide range of allies.

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  • Beltrán, Cristina. The Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    Beltrán presents a unique blend of political science and political theory in her examination of efforts by Latino social movements to promote unity within the heterogeneous Latino population. The second half of the book focuses on debates over immigration reform, and the response of different Latino movements to these questions.

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  • Branton, Regina P., Tony E. Carey Jr., Valerie Martinez-Ebers, and Tetsuya Matsubayashi. “Social Protest and Policy Attitudes: The Case of the 2006 Immigrant Rallies.” American Journal of Political Science 59.2 (2015): 390–402.

    DOI: 10.1111/ajps.12159Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Branton and colleagues combine data from the Latino National Survey (see Data Sources) with geographic data to examine whether these events shifted Latino attitudes on immigration policy. They find that individuals interviewed after the protests, and immigrants residing where significant protests occurred, are less likely to support restrictive policies toward immigrants. Consistent with other research on Latino Public Opinion on Immigrants and Immigration, analysis also emphasizes the importance of individual-level characteristics.

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  • Silber Mohamed, Heather. The New Americans? Immigration, Protest, and the Politics of Latino Identity. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2017.

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    Silber Mohamed provides historical background to the legislative debate surrounding the 2006 protests, comparing these events to prior Latino social movements. She challenges the idea that after the 2006 protests, all Latinos would feel more pan-ethnic (Latino/Hispanic). Instead, treating the Latino National Survey (see Data Sources) as a natural experiment, she finds that consistent with the patriotic frame and American symbols advanced at the marches, Latinos interviewed after these events are more likely to feel American than similar respondents interviewed before, with effects contingent upon other demographic factors. The book’s emphasis on Latino understandings of what it means to be American, the acquisition of an American identity, and variation within the Latino experience also connect to research on Immigrant Incorporation.

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  • Voss, Kim, and Irene Bloemraad, eds. Rallying for Immigrant Rights. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

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    Edited volume exploring the mobilizing forces behind the 2006 protests and their broader implications for Latino participation. The first chapter situates these historic events in terms of past immigration legislation as well as previous Hispanic social movements. Later chapters discuss a wide range of mobilizing forces behind the protests, including local organizations, families, schools, unions, religious institutions, and ethnic media.

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  • Wallace, Sophia J., Chris Zepeda-Millán, and Michael Jones-Correa. “Spatial and Temporal Proximity: Examining the Effects of Protests on Political Attitudes.” American Journal of Political Science 58.2 (2014): 433–448.

    DOI: 10.1111/ajps.12060Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Wallace and colleagues map the size and location of all 2006 protests and combine this information with data from the 2005–2006 Latino National Survey (see Data Sources). They contribute both methodologically and theoretically to our understanding of social movements by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to explore the varied effects of the 2006 protests on feelings of political efficacy and government trust.

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Immigration Politics and the Media

What role does the media have in shaping individuals’ attitudes about immigration policy? Does the press cover immigration issues fairly? And what factors influence the media’s coverage of immigration issues? Broadly speaking, research on immigration and the media address this range of questions while connecting to a wider body of literature on the relationship between the press and policymaking. Dunaway, et al. 2010 emphasizes the agenda-setting function of the press, or the media’s ability to place an issue on the public’s radar, as the authors seek to understand the influence of press coverage on public opinion. They also stress the importance of geography in understanding variation in press coverage, finding that periodicals in Border States publish many more immigration stories than those in other states. In addition to agenda-setting, scholarship assesses the ways in which the media’s role in framing, or telling a story about a given issue, can influence popular attitudes. This line of research investigates not only the quantity of news stories about immigration, but also their content. For instance, Chavez 2001 examines thirty years of cover photos from national magazines, highlighting a shift in the content of these images over time (see also Chavez 2013 under Anti-immigrant Backlash for a discussion of the media’s role in developing the “Latino threat” narrative). Suro 2008 emphasizes the effects of the media’s framing on individual attitudes as well as public policy. He also points to the changing nature of the media industry, including the growth of the partisan media, as an important factor in the shifting tone of press coverage over time. Suárez-Orozco, et al. 2011 provides new perspective to this discussion, with contributions from social scientists as well as journalists who cover immigration issues. Finally, Branton and Dunaway 2008 looks beyond English-language coverage of the immigration debate. The authors contribute to a relatively nascent body of literature on the Spanish-language press, emphasizing distinctions in both the quantity and quality of immigration press coverage based on language.

  • Branton, Regina, and Johanna Dunaway. “English‐ and Spanish‐Language Media Coverage of Immigration: A Comparative Analysis.” Social Science Quarterly 89.4 (2008): 1006–1022.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2008.00596.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Authors conduct a content analysis of news stories using an original dataset of articles published in Spanish- and English-language newspapers in California over a one-year period (2004–2005). They find that Spanish-language newspapers produce 1,800 percent more news coverage about immigration than English-language periodicals, and that the overall content of these articles is also more positive.

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  • Chavez, Leo R. Covering Immigration: Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

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    Chavez studies immigration-related images featured on the cover of ten major national news magazines between 1965 and 1999. Categorizing images as neutral, affirmative, or alarmist, he finds a dramatic increase in alarmist imagery since the early 1980s, arguing that the media has increasingly characterized immigrants as something other or different.

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  • Dunaway, Johanna, Regina P. Branton, and Marisa A. Abrajano. “Agenda Setting, Public Opinion, and the Issue of Immigration Reform.” Social Science Quarterly 91.2 (2010): 359–378.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2010.00697.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Authors find that press coverage of immigration influences individual attitudes about immigration. Using content analysis, they also demonstrate that periodicals in states along the US-Mexico border publish more stories related to immigration than those in nonborder locations.

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  • Suárez-Orozco, Marcelo, Vivian Louie, and Roberto Suro, eds. Writing Immigration: Scholars and Journalists in Dialogue. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

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    This unique edited volume presents the perspective of scholars alongside that of journalists covering immigration issues. Volume addresses cultural, economic, and educational implications of immigration, as well as the human side of immigration, including the media’s emphasis on stories of individuals and families. Journalists’ thoughts on maintaining objectivity in covering immigration stories will be of interest to students in the social sciences as well as communications studies.

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  • Suro, Roberto. “The Triumph of No: How the Media Influence the Immigration Debate.” In A Report on the Media and the Immigration Debate. Edited by R. Suro, 1–47. Washington, DC: Brookings Institute, 2008.

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    Presents a content analysis of over 80,000 news stories from print, broadcast, and digital media to track the media’s role in placing immigration on the public agenda and framing the immigration debate. Argues that changes in the media industry away from unbiased coverage and toward more partisan news stories have reinforced the intractability of recent immigration debates.

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Data Sources

A number of useful data sources exist for scholars looking to conduct their own research on immigrants’ attitudes, behavior, and demographics. Here, we describe some of the main data sources available, as well as several key books that make use of this data. The Twenty-First Century Americanism Survey (2004) includes common questions that measure public opinion toward immigrants and immigration policy. Other data sources include surveys of immigrants and children of immigrants. The Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (1991–2006) is a panel study following over five thousand immigrant children from early adolescence to early adulthood. The Latino National Survey (LNS, 2005–2006) examined a diverse population of Latinos, including Latino immigrants. Using LNS data, Fraga, et al. 2011 profiles Latinos, with chapters focusing on Latino identity, transnationalism, and political participation. Affigne, et al. 2014, also using the LNS, explores the diversity of Latinos and intra-community differences. The Latino Immigrant National Election Study (2012) adapts questions from the American National Election Study to survey immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries. The National Asian American Survey (2008) surveys the civic engagement and political participation of a number of individuals of different Asian American heritage groups. Wong, et al. 2011 draws on National Asian American Survey data to explore the political behavior of Asian Americans.

  • Affigne, Tony, Evelyn Hu-DeHart, and Marion Orr, eds. Latino Politics en Ciencia Política: The Search for Latino Identity and Racial Consciousness. New York: New York University Press, 2014.

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    Edited volume using data from the Latino National Survey to test a wide range of theories about Latino political participation, incorporation, and public opinion. With contributions from a number of top scholars in the field, this book would be useful for undergraduate courses in Latino politics and research methods.

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  • Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS). Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, 1991–2006.

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    Beginning in 1991, the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) was conducted as a panel survey, with large samples of second-generation immigrant children in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and San Diego, California. The survey instrument was designed to study the adaptation process, including questions about educational attainment, employment, political attitudes and behavior, and other topics.

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  • Fraga, Luis R., John A. Garcia, Rodney E. Hero, Michael Jones-Correa, Valerie Martinez-Ebers, and Gary M. Segura. Latinos in the New Millennium: An Almanac of Opinion, Behavior, and Policy Preferences. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139083577Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Drawing on results from the Latino National Survey, the authors present a comprehensive profile of Latinos in the United States. The book provides a nuanced look at Latinos’ backgrounds, opinions, political behaviors, and attitudes. Would be useful for a range of undergraduate courses in Latino/a studies.

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  • Latino Immigrant National Election Study. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2012.

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    Nationally representative panel study of foreign-born individuals from Spanish-speaking countries conducted before and after the 2012 election. Many questions are adapted from the American National Election Study, focusing on Latino political engagement, attitudes, and participation.

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  • Latino National Survey. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, 2006.

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    The most extensive and diverse survey of Latinos in the United States, this telephone survey of over eight thousand self-identified Latino/Hispanics was conducted between November 2005 and August 2006 in both English and Spanish. The instrument asks questions about individuals’ backgrounds, experiences, political attitudes, and policy preferences. Coincidence of data collection with the 2006 protests has also led to research using the dataset as a natural experiment (see also Immigrant Rights’ Movement).

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  • National Asian American Survey. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, 2008.

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    In the largest and most comprehensive survey of Asian Americans to date, this telephone survey interviewed over five thousand self-identified Asian/Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States in the fall of 2008. Interviews were conducted in eight languages and included large numbers of individuals in different national-origin groups. Survey instrument asks questions about personal experiences, political behaviors, and political attitudes.

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  • Twenty-First Century Americanism Survey. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, 2004.

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    Nationally representative phone survey of 2,800 individuals that oversamples African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. Funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, survey instrument includes questions about identifying as American as well as attitudes about immigration policy and indicators of resentment toward immigrants and members of minority groups.

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  • Wong, Janelle, S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, Taeku Lee, and Jane Junn. Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and Their Political Identities. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2011.

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    Using data from the National Asian American Survey, this book is essential reading for students and scholars seeking to understand variation in Asian American political behavior.

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