Elected and Appointed Officials’ Incentives for Accommodation
This chapter explains what motivates local government officials’ responses to immigrants. Local officials’ socioeconomic characteristics, coupled with legal and economic incentives associated with their position, foreground understandings of immigrants as clients and contributors. Federal policies that require local officials to provide educational and other services to immigrants frame the newcomers as municipal clients. In addition, given limited options for raising local revenues, municipal officials increasingly see immigrant workers, entrepreneurs, and consumers as contributors to their economy. Contrary to findings in earlier studies, both bureaucrats and elected officials have incentives to incorporate immigrants. Some officials—particularly police chiefs—are less interested in serving immigrants and more interested in enforcement because their official role or political ideology foregrounds negative frames of immigrants. While these findings indicate that some local government officials are susceptible to negative frames of immigrants, the overall picture indicates that they are relatively supportive of immigrants. Indeed, comparing local officials’ views with polling responses from the general public, officials express distinctly more favorable views of immigrants.
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