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Welcoming New Americans?Local Governments and Immigrant Incorporation$
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Abigail Fisher Williamson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226572512

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226572796.001.0001

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(p.1) Chapter One Introduction
Welcoming New Americans?

Abigail Fisher Williamson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter introduces the importance of understanding local government responses to immigrants amid increasing devolution of immigration enforcement coupled with immigrant dispersion to new destinations. It describes federal requirements for how local governments respond to immigrants, the resultant mix of municipal responses, and existing findings about how these responses shape immigrant incorporation. It introduces the book’s theory; namely, that local government officials tend to accommodate rather than restrict immigrants because they face distinct incentives that cause them to frame immigrants as clients and contributors. Owing to these distinct incentives, local government officials accommodate immigrants in ways that largely benefit local elites and can precipitate backlash from the broader public. The chapter presents the study’s methodology of inductive theory-building case studies in four new immigrant destinations—Lewiston, Maine; Wausau, Wisconsin; Elgin, Illinois; and Yakima, Washington— followed by deductive theory testing using a national survey of municipal officials.

Keywords:   immigration, immigrant, local government, municipal, new immigrant destination, federal, immigrant incorporation, restriction, accommodation, backlash

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