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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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The Civil Rights Legacy, External Scrutiny, and Reining in Restrictive Response

The Civil Rights Legacy, External Scrutiny, and Reining in Restrictive Response

Chapter:
(p.163) Chapter Six The Civil Rights Legacy, External Scrutiny, and Reining in Restrictive Response
Source:
Welcoming New Americans?
Author(s):

Abigail Fisher Williamson

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226572796.003.0006

This chapter demonstrates that when local government officials implement restrictive responses to immigrants they often face external scrutiny that leads them to scale back restriction out of concern over legal and reputational costs. In Lewiston, Wausau, and Elgin, restrictive responses to immigrants generated external scrutiny from federal regulators, national advocacy groups, and the media, which framed immigrants as a protected class under civil rights law. Local officials responded by scaling back restriction and even implementing compensatory accommodation. This pattern is also evident across the ninety-four cities and towns that considered or passed restrictive ordinances in 2006-7. These cities experienced a marked decline in restriction over time. Eight years later ordinances remained in effect in only one-third of towns and were scaled back in some way in more than three-quarters. Where external scrutiny was greater, ordinances were less likely to remain in effect, even holding constant other salient factors. Even in small, previously homogeneous new immigrant destinations local officials are sensitive to definitions of immigrants as a protected class under civil rights law and in some cases have internalized antidiscriminatory norms associated with these protections.

Keywords:   immigrant, local government, restrictive, scrutiny, new immigrant destination, federal, civil rights, protected class, antidiscriminatory, ordinance

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