UG Junior Workshop: Immigration Politics and Policymaking in America





Founded and built by immigrants, the U.S. has a complicated relationship with newcomers and the political, economic and cultural changes they cause. In this junior workshop, we will examine some of the most important research studies on immigration politics and policymaking in America addressing some of the following questions.

How have electoral politics, policymaking in Congress and the states, and local and national media coverage affected, and been affected by, immigrants and patterns of immigration? How is immigration rhetoric used in elections, and with what consequences for voters’ candidate preferences? To what extent do pro- and anti-immigrant policies, as well as nongovernmental organizations such as churches, nonprofits and advocacy groups, affect the day-to-day experiences and social and political integration of immigrants? How do members of Congress vote on immigration policy, and to what extent do they follow their constituents’ preferences? When do changing demographics affect the public’s views about immigrants and immigration policy? What roles do economic competition, racial bias and cultural concerns play in the public’s attitudes about immigrants and immigration policy? Do immigrants conform to nativist fears, and how do immigrant group members respond politically to xenophobic rhetoric and anti-immigrant policies and proposals?

The readings will be used to understand some of the existing answers to these questions, as well as to illustrate research designs and potential approaches for conducting your own independent research. Special emphasis will be placed on critically engaging with this prior research to identify unconvincing, outdated or unaddressed topics in need of further investigation (by you). A wide range of positive (i.e. not normative) research questions such as those above and methodological approaches can be pursued in this workshop. Possible approaches include media content analysis; analysis of Congressional or other legislative roll-call voting records; analysis of survey, polling or election results data; field, lab or survey experiments; qualitative interviews; and others depending on student interest.

See also: Undergraduate