Welcoming New Americans? Local Governments and Immigrant Incorporation (The University of Chicago Press, forthcoming) Despite ample evidence of Americans’ sometimes hostile responses to immigrants, this book presents evidence that local governments nationwide are far more likely to accommodate than exclude immigrants. Why would local officials undertake these potentially unpopular and costly efforts to serve immigrants? Moreover, how does municipal accommodation shape immigrant incorporation, in terms of both immigrant advancement and societal acceptance? Welcoming New Americans draws on in-depth examination of four cities and analysis of an original national survey to reveal the prevalence of accommodation, identify when and where it is more likely to arise, and illustrate that it has both benefits and pitfalls for immigrant incorporation.

The Politics of New Immigrant Destinations: Transatlantic Perspectives. 2017. Temple University Press. (Edited volume, with Stefanie Chambers, Diana Evans, and Anthony Messina.) Migration to new destinations in Europe and the United States has expanded dramatically over the past few decades. Within these destinations, there is a corresponding greater variety of ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity. The Politics of New Immigrant Destinations considers the challenges and opportunities posed by this proliferation of diversity for governments, majority populations, and immigrants. The introduction (which I coauthored with Anthony Messina) is excerpted here.


"Intergovernmental Policy Feedback and Urban Responses to Immigrants." 2019. PS: Political Science and Politics, 53(1):20-24.
Traditional understandings of intergovernmental relations anticipate that top-down federal policy constraints will drive local policymaking. More recent theories instead describe multilevel urban governance, with both horizontal dimensions across localities and sectors, as well as vertical dimensions. Despite these new theories, I argue that top-down influence remains especially influential. Drawing on evidence from a survey of local governments coupled with government administrative data, I demonstrate that varying exposure to federal policies that welcome versus restrict immigrants shapes subsequent, independent local responses to immigrants. These federal policy feedbacks demonstrate the national government’s instrumental power in shaping local officials’ immediate behavior, as well as its normative power in shaping officials’ subsequent views and actions. While the top-down dimension remains especially influential, the innovative local policies that result have the reciprocal potential to shape conceptions of immigrants from the bottom up. (The findings in this symposium piece draw on analysis from this working paper.)

"Mechanisms of Declining Intra-Ethnic Trust in New Immigrant Destinations." 2015. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41(11): 1725-1745.
Some recent findings suggest that increasing ethnic diversity is associated with declining social cohesion within ethnic groups. Prevailing findings indicate that diversity is connected to declines in some forms of trust but not consistently to declines in participation. I demonstrate the shortcomings of three proposed mechanisms to explain this phenomenon and propose an alternate mechanism that better explains prevailing findings. Drawing on 286 interviews in four newly diverse US immigrant destinations, I find that increasing diversity reveals in-group cleavages regarding how to respond to the out-group.

"See No Spanish? Implicit Cues, Personal Experience, and Attitudes toward Immigration" (coauthored with Daniel J. Hopkins and Van C. Tran). 2014 Politics, Group, and Identities, 2(1): 35-51.
This paper is part of a broader project using experimental techniques to elucidate the factors that shape attitudes toward immigration. We find that exposure to a single line of Spanish language text decreases support for immigration among key sub-groups of native-born Americans, including those who hear Spanish frequently in their daily lives.

"Declining Trust Amidst Diversity? A Natural Experiment in Lewiston, Maine." 2014. In Social Cohesion and Immigration in Europe and North America: Mechanisms, Conditions and Causality, edited by Ruud Koopmans, Bram Lancee, and Merlin Schaeffer. Routledge.
This chapter explores a natural experiment of the effect of ethnic diversity on social capital in Lewiston, Maine, a previously homogeneous white city that experienced a rapid in-migration of Somalis in 2001. The case enables analysis of how inter- and intra-group trust and friendship respond to changes in diversity over time and at different geographic scales. At the municipal and regional level, changes in social capital in Lewiston do not differ markedly from comparison groups. At the neighborhood level, however, living in neighborhoods that experienced concentrated Somali settlement is associated with differential declines in some forms of trust and in interracial friendship.

"Public Deliberation: Where Are We and Where Can We Go?" in National Civic Review, Vol. 93, No. 4 (Winter 2004): 3-15. With Archon Fung.
A review of the range of public deliberation efforts that asks three large questions about these activities. First, what does intentional public deliberation aim to do? That is, what are the problems and deficits of public discussion and governance that these activities aim to address? Second, how have policy makers and practitioners constructed venues of public deliberation to achieve these goals? Third, which design choices and methods have been effective at achieving these various goals?

"Citizen Participation in the Unified New Orleans Plan" 2007. A report to the Rockefeller Foundation and AmericaSpeaks.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I evaluated how public engagement affected the legitimacy of post-disaster recovery planning. By bringing together a representative group of citizen participants and enabling meaningful discussion across lines of difference, large-scale public meetings overcame significant obstacles to raise the credibility of the Unified New Orleans Plan in the eyes of public leaders. On the whole, leaders were less clear about the role that public input played in influencing the substance of the plan.

Works In Progress

"Ethnic Concentration, Co-Ethnic Participation: Mexican-American Civic Participation and Destination Context."
Presented at the Association for Public Policy and Management. November 7, 2013.

Additional Projects

Social Capital Impact Assessment
An exploratory project (in collaboration with the Saguaro Seminar for Civic Engagement in America and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation) considering how to infuse policymaking with attention to impacts on community networks.