Understanding the Determinants of Immigration Policy Activity by Local Governments: Right to the City, Place-making, and the Politics of Immigration

Authors: Anne VIsser*, University of California, Davis, Sheryl-Ann Simpson, Carleton University
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Political Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Immigration, Policy Diffusion, Political Geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Committee Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While immigration policymaking has traditionally been the sole prerogative of nation states, research has documented increased instances of migration policymaking at sub-national government levels in migrant-receiving societies in the West. This paper examines the temporally and spatially distinctive dynamics influencing the adoption of these policies at the city/municipality level in the United States. The study considers the implementation of migrant labor market regularizations (LRs) for the time period 2004–2014. LRs are defined as discrete arenas of policymaking at the sub-national level that affect aspects of migrant workers’ status in labor markets and include laws and ordinances related to: anti-solicitation, language access, local enforcement of federal immigration law, and employment verification. Utilizing a multilevel event histories model, we analyze data from a unique data set of over 5000 LR policies at the city and county level in the United States, and address two research questions: (1) What are the social, economic, and political factors that Influence the adoption of LRs by municipalities in the United States; and (2) do policy adoption trends that occurred during 2004–2014 indicate a unique type of diffusion pattern? We find that the adoption of LRs by city and municipalities are influenced by the policy behaviors at the state government level and the politics of immigration, and argue that such activities can be conceptualized as a new type of democratic control over the city in the context of immigration policymaking.

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