Friday, April 13, 2007

Audrey Singer on immigration

Today I went to a talk by Audrey Singer from the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program on “The New Geography of Immigration and the Future of Immigration Integration.” Her current research focuses on new immigrant gateways (what she calls “21st Century Gateways”) including Charlotte. Of course this relates directly to differences in local political response in these cities that have experienced significant immigrant growth recently.

She had one insight I found especially interesting, which I had not heard anyone argue before. Cities, towns, etc. with a clear hierarchy of elected officials may tend to be more hostile to immigrants than unincorporated areas, where it is much harder to point fingers politically. Therefore people come up with more flexible solutions rather than have city councils pass restrictive laws to appease vocal voters. She admitted this is anecdotal, as she hadn’t done an empirical analysis—it would be a great thing to study in more detail.


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