The American Immigrant Policy Portal

Civic Participation

Home
Civic Participation
Cultural and Linguistic Competency
Economic Development, Employment and Labor Issues
Education (Pre-K to 12)
Education (Adult)
Immigrant Communities
Intergroup Relations
Local Government
State Government
State-Specific Studies
National Perspectives/ Immigration Policy
Global Perspectives
Events
About Us
Contact

 
RESOURCES ON IMMIGRANT CIVIC PARTICIPATION, POLICY AND PRACTICE

Arranged in order of publication date with the most recent on top. Selection does not necessarily imply endorsement of findings or research methodology by Diversity Dynamics and its partner organizations. Scroll down for all entries. We regret that we may not be able to repair broken links promptly.
 The empowerment of immigrant communities is an important strategy for immigrant integration. Participation in the political process encourages and supports positive social change. The development of strong immigrant community institutions enables immigrants to help one another and to acclimate to the larger society.These reports discuss various aspects of immigrant civic participation.

Reconceiving Citizenship: Noncitizen Voting in New York City Municipal Elections as a Case Study in Immigrant Integration and Local Governance,
Journal of Migration and Human Security, 223 (August, 2014), 64 pp.
Author: Lauren Gilbert

Despite making initial headway in the New York City Council, a measure to extend the franchise in local elections to qualified non-citizens was blocked in 2013 by the administration of former Mayor Bloomberg out of concern for the measure's constitutionality and feasibility. The introduction of the New York is Home Act in the New York State Legislature in 2014, which would grant state citizenship, including the right to vote in state and local elections, to noncitizens who have lived in New York and paid taxes for at least three years, as well as the decision of the new Mayor of New York Bill De Blasio to make municipal ID cards available to undocumented immigrants, suggests that the question of municipal voting may soon be back on the agenda of the New York City Council. Although some have argued that such a measure would constitute a restoration of noncitizen voting rights in local elections, common during the first century and a half of the nation's history, others, including the author of this article, take a more cautious approach. She begins by providing a review of recent experiments with noncitizen suffrage in other parts of the United States, with special attention to Tacoma Park (MD) and Portland (MA). While agreeing that "powerful reasons exist for allowing New York City to extend the suffrage to noncitizens in municipal elections," the author notes that local officials must ensure that noncitizens do not inadvertently vote in federal elections, and thereby subject themselves to prosecution and possible deportation for violating federal law. The author also looks at the question of whether New York City can act without first securing the permission of the New York State legislature. There is sufficient ambiguity in state law, she points out, to suggest the need for a citywide referendum on the subject. However, such a course of action is a risky proposition and would have to be proceeded by a "well-orchestrated YES campaign."

Citizenship: A Wise Investment for Cities,
USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, The Center for Popular Democracy, and The National Partnership for New Americans, Summer, 2014, 9 pp.
This report "represents the first stage in what will be an ongoing research effort" by Cities for Citizenship (C4C), a collaborative project co-chaired by the mayors of Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, to promote the naturalization of recent immigrants. Funded by Citi Community Development, C4C will help municipal governments start or develop citizenship programs in other communities.  This report quantifies the economic gains to be realized by cities and regions by using Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York as test cases. Controlling for industry and occupation and assuming that half the eligible population will naturalize over a period of 5 to 10 years, the researchers report that the increased earnings of naturalized immigrants (estimated to be between 8 and 11 percent nationally) "will lead to additional economic activity - or GDP - over ten years of between $2.2 and $4.8 billion in the city of New York, $1.6 and $2.8 billion in Los Angeles, and between $1.2 and $1.8 billion in Chicago." The report concludes with some recommendations for cities interested in using naturalization as an economic development and community-building strategy.

Citizenship Matters: How Children of Immigrants Will Sway the Future of Politics,
Center for American Progress & Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, July, 2014, 25 pp.
Authors:  Manuel Pastor, Justin Scoggins, Vanessa Carter & Jared Sanchez
The authors of this study assess the long-term political consequences of a failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. They argue that those who fear that a path to citizenship for the undocumented will be a path to defeat for the Republican Party are misguided in their thinking.  The path to citizenship in the Senate bill would take at least 13 years, allowing both parties time to win over voters-to-be. Polling also indicates that close to 20 percent of undocumented immigrants identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, while 45 percent would be open to voting Republican if the Party played a leadership role in passing immigration reform. But the most compelling political argument for action, according to the authors, is that millions of new citizens, both foreign-born and native-born, are linked to the undocumented both through membership in "mixed status" families and through a shared commitment to immigration reform. Both the citizen children of undocumented immigrants and the citizen children of all immigrants will form a pool of 15.4 million new voters by 2032. The number would rise to 19.3 million if the children of all Hispanic and Asian people are counted. The authors conclude that the failure to pass immigration reform "is likely to entrench a second generation against political actors perceived as holding up immigration reform progress."

Protecting Minority Voters: Our Work is Not Done,
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Commission on Voting Rights (NCVR), 2014, 255 pp.
Report Writer: Tova Wang
After conducting 25 regional or state-based hearings to gauge the extent of voting rights violations in states and communities, the NCVR compiled this report to share its findings. The report concludes that "voting discrimination is a frequent and ongoing problem..."  NCVR faults the Supreme Court for finding the Section 5 preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 to be unconstitutional and an "unnecessary vestige of a bygone era."  Section 5 provided for federal screening of all new voting practices in nine states and in parts of six others, where there had been a history of discrimination.  According to the report, "Section 5 in fact was targeting the states with the worst records of recent, repeated voting discrimination..." The report provides background information on the VRA, along with an analysis of how the VRA has been used to block voting discrimination from 1995 to the present.  There were: 171 successful Section 2 lawsuits, 113 Section 5 preclearance denials, and 48 successful lawsuits raising language assistance claims. The report also documents the adverse consequences for minority communities of state laws and practices that restrict or interfere with access to the ballot.

The Latino Electorate by Immigrant Generation: The Rising Influence of Children of Immigrants,
Center for American Progress, June 12, 2014, 9 pp.
Author: Patrick Oakford
The 2012 U.S. presidential election was a turning point in the perception of the power of the Latino vote, according to author Patrick Oakford, who noted that Latinos were credited with helping President Barack Obama's reelection. In his paper "The Latino Electorate by Immigrant Generation: The Rising Influence of Children of Immigrants," Oakford analyzes the Latino electorate to gauge its impact on future elections. Oakford breaks down the Latino electorate into three groups: first-generation immigrants (foreign-born), second-generation immigrants (children of foreign-born immigrants), and third-generation immigrants (children of U.S.-born parents). He finds that immigrants and their children are a growing percentage of the Latino electorate increasing from 49 percent in 1996 to 55 percent in 2012. Second-generation immigrants also are a growing share of the Latino electorate: between the last and the next elections, around 3.3 million Latino citizens will turn 18. Crucially, according to the findings, immigrants and their children are more likely to vote than third-generation immigrants. Consequently, as their share of the electorate increases, Latino voter turn-out is likely to increase. Oakford suggests that this trend has important implications for both the President and the House of Representatives, providing some incentive to deal with policy matters that affect Latinos such as immigration reform.  (Denzil Mohammed, The  Immigrant Learning Center, Public Education Institute)

Latinos and the VRA: A Modern Fix for Modern-Day Discrimination,
MALDEF, NALEO, and NHLA, June, 2014, 17 pp.
Authors: Andrea Senteno & Erin Hustings
In June of 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder struck down the Section 4(b) coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a five-to-four margin. Almost one-third of all eligible Latino voters in the U.S. live in the states and localities subject to the pre-Shelby coverage formula. Asserting that "voting discrimination against Latinos is obvious, egregious, and far-reaching," the three organizations producing this report urge Congress to pass the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. To demonstrate the extent to which Latino voters have been subject to voting rights discrimination both before and after the Shelby decision, the report highlights examples of discriminatory laws and practices that were either outlawed before Shelby or allowed to stand post-Shelby.  The inventory of such laws and practices covers the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New York, and Texas.

The New Immigration Contestation: Social Movements and Local Immigration Policy Making in the United States, 2000-2011,
American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 119, No. 4 (January 2014), 51 pp.
Authors:  Justin Peter Steil & Ion Bogdan Vasi
Throughout the past century, the policy debate on immigration has primarily played out on the federal level. However, during the first decade of the 21st century, the debate has also seeped down to the local and state level, with some jurisdictions passing laws designed to drive out undocumented immigrants and other jurisdictions enacting policies to promote the integration of immigrants regardless of their immigration status. The authors of this essay refer to this increase in local immigration policy-making as the "new immigration contestation" and they seek to explain the "mechanisms" and "structural forces" that drive some communities to pursue "proactive" (or pro-immigrant) policies, whereas others take "reactive" (or anti-immigrant) paths. Rather than focusing on political partisanship or local demographic change as the main driving forces, the authors examine the role that local social movements have played in the spread of these policies. Their research covers 96 cities that passed anti-immigrant policies and 97 cities that adopted pro-immigrant policies between 2000 and 2011, including in-depth case studies of the cities of Hazleton (PA) and Fremont (NE) - anti-immigrant --- and Easton (PA) and Grand Island (NE) - pro-immigrant. The researchers conclude that "pro-immigrant local associations matter for the passage of local pro-immigrant ordinances, but anti-immigrant local associations are not significant for the passage of anti-immigrant policies...What is significant for the passage of anti-immigrant policies are local social and demographic changes that local residents or political leaders have framed as threats in ways that mirror the framing by national anti-immigrant organizations."

Performative Citizenship in the Civil Rights and Immigrant Rights Movements,
UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper,  March 16, 2014, 24 pp.
Author: Kathryn Abrams
In this paper, Kathryn Abrams observes "that the discourse, the strategies, and the specific tactical repertoires of the civil rights movement have become symbols and templates for the immigrant justice movement..." However, there are also "performative dimensions" to both movements that may explain their power and effectiveness. One such dimension is "self-narration, " which rejects the stereotypical notion of how a marginalized or exploited person should interact with the rest of society. As undocumented young people, for example, "come out,"  they "reject the fear, and the resulting posture of hiding, that governmental officials have sought to impose on them through anti-immigrant legislation and enforcement efforts." Another performative dimension is "multifaceted civic engagement," where people model the rights which they seek (and in the case of undocumented immigrants without any legal claim to assert those rights).  The "Know Your Rights" sessions sponsored by the ACLU in conjunction with immigrant rights organizations are one example of this approach. When undocumented young people, i.e. the DREAMers,  knocked on doors in Arizona trying to convince Latino citizens to go to the polls to defeat anti-immigrant state legislators, they were engaged in the democratic process, at the same time that they were trying to get more Latino citizens to the polls. The author concludes that both the civil rights movement and the immigrant rights movement relied on the "alchemy" of claiming rights which may be emergent or precarious as a means of securing their formal recognition."

Should Citizenship be for Sale?
European University Institute, January, 2014, 38 pp.
Editors: Ayelet Shachar & Rainer Baubock
The decision by the government of Malta to offer Maltese and European citizenship to foreigners in exchange for an investment of 1,150,000 Euros has sparked considerable controversy.  In this report, 12 scholars present their views on the subject. They do so by responding to an introductory essay by Ayelet Shachar of the University of Toronto law School, who finds these types of "cash for citizenship" programs to be "deeply problematic and objectionable."   In another essay in the collection, Rainer Bauböck, Co-Director of the European University Institute, reviews the major arguments on both sides of the debate. He comments  "that there is a broader trend toward relinking citizenship acquisition to social class, which manifests itself, on the one hand, in offering citizenship to the rich and, on the other hand, in income and knowledge tests for ordinary naturalizations of foreign residents."

Stepping Up: The Impact of the Newest Immigrant, Asian, and Latino Voters,
Immigration Policy Center, September,  2013, 11 pp
Author: Rob Paral

Across both Democratic and Republican congressional districts, demographics shifts are taking place that will significantly alter the composition of the electorates.  Author Rob Parel points out that young Asian and Latino teenagers coming of age, as well as newly naturalized immigrants, will have a major impact on the profile of newly eligible voters in upcoming elections. Using data from the U.S. Census and the Department of Homeland Security, the paper finds that about 1.4 million newly naturalized citizens and 1.8 million first-time Asian and Latino voters  will participate in each two-year election cycle, and together these groups will constitute 34 percent of all new eligible voters in the 2014 elections alone. Congressional districts across the country but particularly in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and New Mexico will see substantial increases in the Asian and Latino composition of new voters. As a result, Paral suggests  that representatives must be cognizant of how their decisions today and in the future on matters such as comprehensive immigration reform will impact not only the current electorate but also the electorate in the 2014 and future elections. (Denzil Mohammed)

Why don't they naturalize? Voices from the Dominican Community,
Latino Studies (2013), 11, 3, 27 pp.
Authors: Alan Hyde, Ray A. Mateo, & Bridgit Cusato-Rosa
Through interviews with 34 Dominican "non-naturalizers" in New York and New Jersey, this study seeks to understand why Dominican immigrants have historically naturalized at a low rate. It begins by reviewing the four general theories that have been proposed to explain naturalization rates: first, demographic factors, e.g. age, education levels; second, political administrative theories, i.e., the ease or complexity of naturalization procedures; third, economic incentive theories, i.e. immigrants weighing the costs and benefits of citizenship; and fourth, psychological processes.  Each of these theories has some explanatory value, but the authors are most interested in analyzing the psychological factors at work. They reject the view that "Latin Americans don't naturalize because they think they may not stay." Most Dominicans do not expect to return permanently to their country, and even the "sojourners" have an incentive to naturalize so that they can come and go freely without jeopardizing their permanent resident status. However, there may be problems with the very concept of citizenship. The authors quote Smith and Bakker (2008): "Neither popular nor academic thought in this country has come to terms with the difference between being a land of immigrants and being one node in a postnational network of diasporas." Too many immigrants, the authors contend, experience naturalization as "wrenching assaults on their identity."

State Access to Federal Immigration Data Stirs New Controversy in Debate over Voting Rights,
Migration Policy Institute, September 12, 2013, 7 pp.
Authors: Musaffar Chishti & Faye Hipsman
More and more states are seeking to use the electronic, fee-based program called SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) to purge their voter lists of non-citizens. However, this essay points out several problems with the use of SAVE that undermine its usefulness. Firstly, SAVE was not intended to check voter eligibility; rather it was designed to enable government agencies to determine a person's eligibility for public benefits and licenses. The SAVE program is also unreliable. It checks a person's status by finding his or her Alien Registration Number or naturalization/citizenship number but U.S.-born citizens are not included in the SAVE database. Data entry errors and outdated information also make SAVE unreliable; a person's citizenship status may not be immediately updated to the SAVE system. Furthermore, the authors note that state officials have not made a solid case that combating voter fraud is a compelling public goal. Of the 11.5 eligible voters in Florida, for instance, 207 were found to be non-citizens. Nonetheless, the article points out that more than a dozen more states are seeking to access SAVE, a trend that likely will continue. (Denzil Mohammed)

Lining Up: Ensuring Equal Access to the Right to Vote,
Advancement Project & the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 2013, 58 pp.
Author: Gilda R. Daniels
Produced by two organizations dedicated to preserving the right to vote for all Americans and written by Gilda R. Daniels, an Associate Professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, this report chronicles the 2011-2012 "war on voting" against "people of color" and the efforts of the civil rights community, the courts, and voters themselves to push back against this "unprecedented spate of suppressive voting laws."  During this period, at least 180 restrictive voting bills were introduced in 41 states. By October 2012, 16 new laws and two executive actions that were considered restrictive had been adopted in 13 states.  The Co-Director of the Advancement Project described these efforts as the "largest legislative effort to rollback voting rights since the post-reconstruction era." Among the practices under examination in the report are:  restrictive voter ID laws, reductions in early voting, voter purges, and proof of citizenship laws. In addition, the report discusses voter challenges, voter deception and intimidation, the impact of long lines, and the use of provisional ballots.  Rather than encouraging more eligible Americans to vote, these laws and practices, ostensibly for the purpose of rooting out "unfounded claims of voter fraud," act to suppress voting among the 51 million potential voters who are not registered. The report argues that it is imperative  to "build a next-generation voting rights movement" and concludes with a series of recommendations, including:  updating the Voting Rights Act; repeal of restrictive voter ID laws; creating a secure, online voter registration system; and creating early voting opportunities (including weekends and evenings)  in every state.

Report on the Evaluation of the Use of CitizenshipWorks in the New Americans Campaign,
Pro Bono Net & The Immigration Advocates Network, 2013, 39 pp.
Authors: Ken Smith, Kelly Thayer, & Kathy Garwold
The CitizenshipWorks (CW) website (http://www.citizenshipworks.org/) provides access to a variety of online tools to permit permanent residents to determine their eligibility for citizenship and prepare their applications for citizenship. Pro Bono Net and the Immigration Advocates Network, the principal developers of the website, commissioned this evaluation from The Resource for Great Programsto determine the benefits derived by applicants, advocacy organizations, and legal service providers in using these online tools. Under the auspices of the New Americans Campaign, these tools are being piloted with project partners and legal service organizations in eight cities: Los Angeles and San Jose (CA), Houston and Dallas (TX), Detroit, Miami, New York City, and Charlotte (NC). A major conclusion of the evaluation is that "CW has demonstrated that it can significantly increase efficiency and achieve higher success rates over traditional group processing and individual assistance, offering the potential for dramatically increasing the numbers of immigrants that legal services organizations can serve with existing resources of staff, volunteers, and funding." The report also includes a section discussing major issues and lessons learned during the pilot phase of this project.

Urban Politics and the Assimilation of Immigrant Voters
William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 2012, 36 pp.
Author:  Rick Su
What explains the "depressed" or low voter turn-out among naturalized immigrants -- low not only compared to the native-born, but also compared to immigrant groups in earlier periods of American history? According to Rick Su, most scholars focus on the legal and social characteristics of today's immigrants. He instead looks at the political structure of America's cities and finds that there are fewer pay-offs for immigrants in today's "fragmented" city. Indeed, voting may not necessarily be a measure of assimilation, especially if apathy is a characteristic of voters in general.  "If anything, it can be argued that immigrants are assimilating America's newfound political apathy quite well by avoiding any political identification and staying away from the polls."  The bulk of the paper looks at immigrant interaction with local political systems during three periods of American history, which he calls "the machine city, the reform city, and the fragmented city." In the current period, power is diffused to independent authorities and regional entities, leaving fewer resources in the hands of urban administrations. By moving to the suburbs (now where more than half the foreign-born live), "many immigrants have been able to find governments with packages of policies and services that are better suited to their needs in a shorter time and with less effort than through political activism."

Overcoming Citizenship: Six Practical Steps for Overcoming the Hierarchy of Nationality
Rutgers School of Law, Research Paper Series, May 10, 2013, 20 pp.
Author: Alan Hyde
The thesis of this paper, first delivered at a  2012 seminar in Italy, is that the concept of citizenship is antiquated and acts as a means of denying rights to people all over the world. The author argues that, "the justification of inequality is the primary contemporary social function of the concept of citizenship" and adds that "To a future generation, the justification ‘because he is a noncitizen' will sound...as problematic and troubling as the non-justification ‘because she is black' or ‘because she is a Jew' or ‘because she is a woman' sound to us." The author traces the origins of the concept to "subject-hood," the claim by absolute rulers to the fealty of all people born in their realms.  Despite the association of birthright citizenship with the 14thamendment to the Constitution, its true origins date back to feudal rulers. "The juridical concept of citizen/subject thus has no necessary association with political liberty or participation." In the modern world, citizenship enables us to divide people in entirely arbitrary ways, whether in the workplace, or in schools. "Citizenship not only divides us one from another. It divides us from ourselves. Citizenship abstracts a legal person from a body." The author suggests a number of ways to challenge the mystique of citizenship, including "treat(ing) ‘citizenship' as a dirty word," strengthening international human rights protections, "disaggregating" rights from citizenship, proliferating multiple citizenships, removing unrealistic tests of citizenship based on "policing cultural identification," and treating  most distinctions between citizens and noncitizens as "literally ‘suspect.'" Finally, the paper analyzes reasons for low rates of citizenship acquisition by immigrants in the United States, compared to countries like Canada and Australia. Using interviews with Dominican immigrants as a data source, the author emphasizes the importance of psychological factors. Too many immigrants perceive naturalization "as a wrenching assault on their identities."

Run Local:  The New American Electorate and the 2013 Municipal Elections
The New American Leaders Project, March 6, 2013,
28 pp.
Authors: Tyler Reny & Sayu Bhojwani
This report argues that "elected officials from APIA, Latino, Arab American, and Caribbean American communities (co-ethnics) are the best leaders for their communities." They bring an understanding of the experience and problems of their communities to governance and have the power to mobilize their communities to participate in the electoral process.  Moreover, local elections are important training grounds and pipelines for leaders interested in advancing to state and federal elective office. The report reviews a number of factors that can either inhibit or facilitate the emergence of "descriptive representation," including the size of electoral districts (at-large seats tend to discriminate against co-ethnic candidates), re-districting that does not "crack" concentrations of ethnic voters, and term limits. Finally, the authors provide a list of 22 cities with large minority populations that are holding elections in 2013 and where there are "exciting possibilities for new American candidates..."

Nurturing Naturalization: Could Lowering the Fee Help?
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration and National Partnership for New Americans, February 2013, 21 pp.
This report finds that the $680 naturalization fee has become a major barrier to applying for citizenship for many legal permanent residents (LPRs), particularly low-income immigrants, who constitute approximately 52 percent of the eligible population.  The fee has risen dramatically over the past 20 years: from $95 in 1997 to $595 (plus a biometric fee of $85) in 2007. Although earlier studies had suggested that the demand for citizenship services is not very price sensitive, this study draws on new data from the Office of Immigration Statistics and the American Community Survey to show that "fee increases are associated with a dramatic decline in the naturalization of less-educated (and likely lower income) immigrants, an increase in the number of years immigrants wait to become citizens, and a change in the national origin of the naturalizing population, in particular a relative reduction in those who were born in Mexico." The authors note that, despite the emergence of private microloan programs to cover the cost of naturalization, "absolute fee reductions" or a change in the fee structure would better encourage citizenship, which "is good for both the greater society at large and for immigrants themselves."  (Denzil Mohammed)

Rock the (NATURALIZED) Vote,
Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University of Southern California, October, 2012, 29 pp.
This paper analyzes the size and voting patterns of the newly naturalized (since 2000) voting age population in the United States. New York and New Jersey lead the country in the proportion of the voting age citizen population who are newly naturalized: 7 percent in both states.  However, significant numbers also exist in swing states such as Florida (6 percent) and Nevada (5.1 percent). The authors suggest that the political leanings of this group "may be critical in a tight electoral season," especially because there is some evidence that the newly naturalized may be more motivated to vote "if they attain citizenship in a time period more charged by political tensions around immigration." An interactive map on the Center's website enables ready retrieval of state and county-level data on the newly naturalized.


Segregating American Citizenship: Latino Voter Disenfranchisement in 2012,
Advancement Project, September 24, 2012, 21 pp.
This report finds that 23 states currently have laws and policies that threaten to undermine the electoral participation of an estimated 25.6 million Latino citizens.  Starting in 2010, 16 states began to purge alleged noncitizens from electoral rolls to prevent voter fraud.  Despite their status as naturalized citizens and registered voters, Latino citizens are vulnerable to unfair removal from electoral rolls.  Legislation has also been introduced in 14 states to require prospective voters to bring documentary proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization papers. In many cases, these documents are not readily available and must be paid for or tracked down.  In certain states, a person can wait months before receiving a birth certificate.  Strict laws requiring unexpired, government-issued photo identification before voting have also been passed in 9 states.   Approximately 16 percent of Latinos do not possess photo ID compared to 6 percent of non-Hispanic Whites.  As a result of these measures, Latinos and other citizens of color are stripped of equal rights and placed at a greater disadvantage than U.S. born citizens.  The Advancement Project recommends that states comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requirement that election list maintenance occur outside the 90-day period prior to a federal election. The Project also recommends that states repeal strict photo ID laws and not require documentary proof of citizenship, but rather follow the NVRA guidelines to establish eligibility to vote. (Lorin Mordecai)


Voting Law Changes in 2012,
Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law, 2011, 56 pp.
Since 2011, restrictive voting laws have been passed by state legislatures across the country. Changes include laws requiring voters to show photo identification or provide proof of citizenship; laws curtailing the ability of voters to vote early or via absentee ballot; laws limiting voter registration drives, and laws limiting the rights of those with felony convictions to participate in the electoral process. This study examines each of these strategies in detail and attempts to understand the local political dynamics that produced them. The report estimates that more than 5 million voters could be deterred from voting because of the news laws, many in battleground states for the 2012 presidential election.  According to the authors, restrictive voting laws tend to be highly contested along party lines, with Republicans largely supporting and Democrats largely opposing such laws.  Although proof-of-citizenship laws are often justified as a way of preventing non-citizens from voting, the cumulative effect of restrictive voting laws is to deter voting by college-age youth, minority, low-income, voters with disabilities, and other disenfranchised groups -- leading opponents to argue that the new laws are designed to suppress the Democratic vote.

Bolder Together,
A Report from California Civic Participation Funders, 2012, 12 pp.
A group of 10 California funders interested in social justice issues  -- called the "California Civic Participation Funders" -- joined together in 2010 to promote the ability of grassroots organizations to reach out and engage underrepresented groups of voters. The funders targeted four California counties considered "bellwethers of the state's political future": San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside.  By "stepping out of their issue silos," they were able to pool risk and learn from each other. Unlike other funder collaboratives, these foundations did not create a joint fund, but rather made their own grant decisions. However, they did so "in a highly coordinated way, i.e. with an understanding of the groups' broader goals and objectives, and of how their organizations' investments fit into a bigger puzzle."   This case study discusses the goals and methodology of the collaborative, which remains a work in progress.


Immigrant Integration: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Could Better Assess Its Grant Program,
General Accounting Office (GAO), Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives, December, 2011, 41 pp.
In response to a request from Congress, this report examines the "extent to which the federal government has programs in place to support and coordinate immigrant integration activities." In order to reduce the study to manageable size, the study focuses on the programs of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), particularly the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program of the Office of Citizenship (OoC), as well as other federal mechanisms to coordinate public and private efforts to promote immigrant integration. The grant program -- OoC's largest single budget activity -- consumed $19.8 million of the $42.6 million available to OoC during the three fiscal years ending in 2011.  The report discusses some of the challenges associated with evaluating the program and recommends that USCIS establish interim milestones for conducting internal and external evaluations of the grant program.


Reforming the Naturalization Process,
National Foundation for American Policy, Policy Brief, August, 2011, 19 pp.
This paper outlines a series of steps that could be taken by the Obama administration to improve access to naturalization. The paper consists of a compilation of policy reform recommendations from four organizations:  the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the National Immigration Forum, and the Immigration Policy Center; as well as the views of two consulting immigration attorneys:  Cyrus D. Mehta, and Gary Endelman.  Among key recommendations are: a reconsideration of the "continuous residence" requirement for naturalization to reflect the realities of today's globalized world;  simplification of the "complex" and "obscure" language in the application form; restoration of off-site naturalization interviews at local community centers, especially important for immigrants with disabilities who live in cities not served by USCIS field offices;  and reducing the escalating cost of naturalization brought about by the exclusive reliance on "user fees" to cover USCIS costs and the "taxation" of immigrants to cover the cost of unrelated USCIS services, such as refugee processing.


The Role of Civil Society in EU Migration Policy:  Perspectives on the European Union's Engagement in its Neighborhood,
Migration Policy institute and the European University Institute, June, 2011, 17 pp
As the European Union seeks to stimulate the development of civil society institutions in North Africa, this report reminds us that EU policymakers have not been consistent in promoting the development of these institutions in Europe. "Rhetorical commitments" have not always been matched by tangible results on the ground. "Having a pro forma seat at the table," doesn't always equate to real policy influence.  This report makes the case for the active and meaningful involvement of migrant-serving organizations in policy development and implementation.  It also suggests specific strategies to make interactions productive and useful to both governments and civil society organizations. Among the recommendations are "more centralized civil-society representation," through the formation of organizational networks with common goals, and an "emphasis on the function rather than the form of engagement." 

U.S. Naturalizations: 2010
Department of Homeland Security, 2011, 4 pp.
This report presents information on the number and characteristics of persons naturalizing during 2010. For the second year in a row, the number of new citizens declined over the previous year.  There were 17% fewer naturalizations in 2010 than in 2009.  However, the number of new applicants for naturalization increased by 25% in 2010 over the previous year, suggesting that new citizen numbers may rise in future years.

Benchmarks of Immigrant Civic Engagement,
Prepared for Carnegie Corporation of New York by Rob Paral and Associates, July, 2010, 42 pp.
This report contains a compilation of data on naturalization rates in the United States, including state breakdowns and data on specific immigrant groups. For example, noncitizens are 56% of immigrant adults in the country as a whole, but are a higher percentage in states like North Carolina (71%) and Texas (68%), and lower in states like New York and New Jersey (both 49%).  Lower rates are probably indicative of the greater age spread, and longer periods of residence among immigrants in states that have functioned as long-time gateways. Despite these lower rates, New York and New Jersey rank among the top five states in the number of green card holders eligible to naturalize. The report also examines voter registration and voting rates for naturalized citizens and notes that 40% of naturalized adults in the U.S. are not registered compared with 28% of the native-born, with wide variations among the states. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for foundations interested in investing in naturalization and voter registration as "pillars of immigrant integration."

 
Context Matters:  Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement in Nine U.S. Cities,
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Mexico Institute, 2010, 65 pp.
Funded by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, this applied research project examines the local factors that influence the nature and extent of immigrant civic participation in selected communities in the United States.  A jumping-off point for this study is the spring 2006 immigrant mobilizations, described as "the largest (American) mass public protest on any issue, ever." The report pays particular attention to the strength of local coalitions, the role of Spanish-language media, the support of local religious institutions, and the role of unions. Separate reports are available for some of the cities studied in this project: Charlotte, Chicago, Fresno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Omaha, San Jose, Tucson, and Washington, D.C.
 

Official Language Proficiency and the Civic Participation of Immigrants,
Monica Boyd, Metropolis Language Matters Symposium, October 22, 2009, 17 pp.
This paper attempts to find evidence for the common assumption that lack of proficiency in host country language leads to low levels of civic participation. Using data from the 2002 Canadian Ethnic Diversity Survey, which included questions about membership and frequency of participation in a wide variety of organizations, including ethnic associations, as well as questions about "sense of belonging" to local, provincial, and national polities, the author finds that, with the exception of ethnic or immigrant associations, immigrants with low levels of host language proficiency have low levels of organizational participation, although this fact "cannot be equated with negative feelings about belonging to Canada." Interestingly, participation in ethnic or immigrant associations, for those with low levels of proficiency, increases with length of residence in Canada.

The Effects of Citizenship on Family Income and Poverty,
Briefing Paper, Economic Policy Institute, February 24, 2010, 12 pp.
Contending that "the economic benefits of citizenship have been underexplored in our national discussion around immigration," this paper attempts to quantify the income gains associated with citizenship acquisition. Noting that adult citizen immigrants in 2007 had a median family income of $57,823, 33.2% higher than the $38,600 median income of non-citizen adult immigrants, and that the 20% poverty rate of the latter was more than double the 9% rate of the former, the author proceeds to control for other demographic factors, such as levels of education and age, that may account for these differences. In the end, she finds a significant correlation, lending support for "policy initiatives that create a path to citizenship, as such a path can be a key factor in reducing poverty and opening the door to economic stability for a broad swath of immigrant families."

Community-Based Organizations and Immigrant Integration in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area,
The Urban Institute, November, 2009, 51 pp.
This study examines the work of 533 immigrant-serving organizations in the Washington, D.C., area, classifying them by size, finances, location, ethnic communities served, religious affiliation, and types of programs. The researchers analyze data from federal financial disclosure forms and draw on interviews with 40 organizational leaders. Of particular interest is the role played by these organizations in promoting immigrant integration.  The appeal of these groups appears to rest on their ability to provide a "safe environment" and to employ a "holistic approach" to service delivery. As Asian and African community organizations are less well-developed than Hispanic ones, the authors discuss a number of factors impeding the development of non-Hispanic organizations.  The authors also emphasize the role of local government in stimulating the growth of immigrant-serving organizations, noting a concentration of organizations in the District and inner suburbs, where "immigrant-friendly" officials have steered resources to these organizations, but a scarcity of groups in the outer suburbs where the immigrant population has been soaring in recent years, but where no such commitment from local government has been evident.


California Counts! A Funders' Guide to the 2010 Census,
California Immigrant Integration Initiative, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), 2009, 23 pp.
GCIR argues for strategic philanthropic investment to maximize the participation of immigrants and other "hard-to-count" (HTC) populations in the 2010 decennial census. The authors estimate that for each uncounted resident, the State of California will lose ca.$11,400 over the next ten years. A 10% undercount will result in a 10-year loss for California of $42.4 billion. Although this guide was produced specifically for California funders, the authors believe that the principles and strategies outlined in the guide may prove useful and relevant to grantmakers in other states and regions.


Women Immigrants: Stewards of the 21st Century Family,
New America Media, February 2009, 32 pp.
Noting that the story of migration is often depicted as "a masculine epic...(and) through the Horatio Alger lens of self-discovery and reinvention," the authors of this report call attention to the special role of women in the migration process. Women seem less interested in individual economic success, and more in holding the family together and making a better life for their children. Based on 1,002 telephone interviews, conducted in August and September of 2008, with a representative sample of the adult female population in the United States, the report also finds that women "are changing the meaning of migration from economic to civic." Women appear to be the "catalysts for their families becoming citizens of the United States." Other survey questions probe changes in family roles and responsibilities, the prevalence of two-parent families, and experiences with discrimination. The report also finds a "substantial" number of women working below their level of education and training.


Community Treasures:  Recognizing the Contributions of Older Immigrants and Refugees,
Center for Intergenerational Learning, Temple University, 2008, 62 pp.
Based on field work and focus groups conducted in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Orange County (CA), this report finds that the American concept of "volunteering" is generally unfamiliar to older immigrants and refugees, but that the nature of their community involvement is rich and extensive, although strongly influenced by cultural background. The report emphasizes the critical role of "community connectors" in tapping into this reservoir of talent and leadership and contains case studies of five organizations that have been particularly effective in working with elders.

Immigrant Civic Participation:  A Challenge for New Jersey and the Nation (Broken Link),
Program on Immigration and Democracy, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University, October 20, 2008, 20 pp.
This report provides a summary and detailed minutes of a half-day conference that brought together researchers, community activists, and public officials to discuss research findings and promising practices in the area of immigrant civic participation.The Forum featured presentations about the following model programs: the Coro Immigrant Civic Leadership Program in New York City, the New Americans Initiative in Illinois, the New York Civic Participation Project, and Project Voice of the American Friends Service Committee.  The purpose of the forum was to develop recommendations for presentation to the New Jersey Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigrant Policy.

 

Immigration Policy Center, October, 2008, 25 pp.
Defining "new Americans" as the total of naturalized immigrants and post-1965 children of immigrants, this study emphasizes the growing importance of this segment of the registered voter population, and in particular, their pivotal status in "battleground" states, such as Colorado, Florida, and Indiana. At 15.1%, the percentage of new American registered voters in New Jersey in 2006 ranked fourth in the nation.


Hometown Associations: An Untapped Resource for Immigrant Integration,
MPI Insight, Migration Policy Institute, July, 2008, 23 pp.
This report discusses the remarkable growth of hometown associations (HTA's) within immigrant communities in the United States. Although often perceived by policy makers as performing overseas development functions only, HTA's also play a useful role in promoting immigrant integration. The report suggests a number of "small, well-crafted interventions" that policy-makers can make to harness the energy of HTA's and built strong partnerships between HTA's, local service providers, and local governments.

The Atlantic Philanthropies, May, 2008, 16 pp.
This report argues that "funding advocacy and advocates is the most direct route to supporting enduring social change for the poor, the disenfranchised and the most vulnerable among us..."  Prepared by a major foundation, the report reviews the components of effective advocacy and some of the legal issues in the field.  It includes examples of effective advocacy campaigns, including the effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.

 
Priced Out:  U.S. Citizenship, A Privilege for the Rich and Well-Educated,
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, 2008, 11 pp.
Noting that "the Bush Administration has systematically made citizenship less accessible to hard working immigrants," this report examines the consequences of the 610% increase in citizenship fees over the 10-year period ending in 2008. Since the last fee increase in July, 2007, the number of citizenship applications dropped by 59%. The report concludes with a series of recommendations, including pegging the application fee to the equivalent of one week's pay for a worker making the minimum wage.
Pew Hispanic Center, March 28, 2007, 21 pp.
This report documents a rise in the percentage of legal foreign-born persons in the United States who have become citizens, growing from 37% in 1990 to 52% in 2005. The report also shows that immigrants are not waiting as long as in the past to become naturalized. However, immigrants with lower income levels are less likely to naturalize than those with higher incomes.


Institute for Asian American Studies, University of Massachusetts (Boston), January, 2008, 27 pp.
The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the process of organizational formation within Asian communities in the United States. Using data from federal Form 990, author Chi-Kan Richard Hung examines over 2000 organizations within the ten largest Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas (CSMA's) in the United States, including New York/New Jersey. The paper analyzes both pan-Asian and ethnic specific organizations but only those with annual revenue in excess of $25,000. Organizations were grouped into four functional types. More than 50% of all organizations were established during the period from 1991 to 2000.


Catholic Legal Immigration Network, January, 2007, 192 pp.
Responding to the challenge of integrating a record number of immigrants, The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, interviewed hundreds of experts and community representatives from around the country to determine the resources, activities, and partnerships that would be required to naturalize millions of eligible immigrants. This report summarizes their findings and recommendations.


New Voices at the Civic Table:  How Six Human Service Organizations are Supporting the Civic Engagement of Community Members,
Alliance for Children and Families, January, 2007, 33 pp.
This report discusses six pilot projects undertaken in 2006 to demonstrate how human service organizations can make civic engagement "intrinsic to their mission."  The author finds fault with the old "self-help" model, because "self-sufficiency requires people to develp the skills to represent their individual and shared interests." Although only one of the six projects focuses on immigrants, the report is useful in providing a framework for the analysis and evaluation of civic engagement projects.

Bridging Divides:  The Role of Ethnic Community-Based Organizations in Refugee Integration,
Migration Policy Institute and International Rescue Committee, 2007, 72 pp.
Funded by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, this study assesses the role of ethnic community-based organizations (ECBO's), sometimes called refugee mutual assistance associations,  in facilitating refugee resettlement and integration. The authors conducted an in-depth examination of seven prototypical organizations around the country, interviewing staff members and clients, analyzing organizational strengths and weaknesses, and providing recommendations to ECBO's, state and local governments, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Immigrant Citizenship in the United States and Canada: Explaining the Difference (Broken Link),
Canadian American Research Studies, Fall, 2006, 10 pp.
In this article, Sociologist Irene Bloemraad attempts to explain why immigrants in Canada naturalize at higher rates than immigrants in the United States. Key factors are Canada's policy of multiculturalism and its commitment of resources to support the naturalization process.

Immigrant-Led Organizers in Their Own Voices: Local Realities and Shared Visions,
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc (CLINIC), May, 2006, 33 pp.
Over the course of three year (2001-2004), with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, CLINIC provided grants and technical assistance to 17 community-based organizations to examine the "birth, development and maintenance of the organizing process among immigrants." With one exception, all participating organizations were outside the Catholic agency network, including the one organization in New Jersey to participate in the project (Wind of the Spirit). This report discusses successful immigrant leadership development strategies, as well as the partnerships that nurtured effective organizing. The report also contains useful information on evaluating immigrant community organizing.

Civic Inequalities:  Immigrant Volunteerism and Community Organizations in California,
Public Policy Institute of California, 2006, 165 pp.
As immigrants and their children constitute a growing proportion of the population, their level of civic participation will have important consequences for the future of American democracy. Through use of census data, ten focus groups and case studies in two cities, the authors of this report survey the landscape of participation in the State of California from the "bottom up" and analyze resource disparities between ethnic and mainstream organizations. The report recommends various strategies to engage immigrants in American civic and political life.

Crossing Borders, Sharing Journeys:  Effective Capacity building with Immigrant and Refugee Groups,
Fieldstone Alliance, 2006, 88 pp.
Funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this report distills the best thinking and practices of 11 capacity building organizations in the United States and Canada that came together as a learning and research community from 2004 to 2006. The report also summarizes the work of each organization in stimulating the development or building the capacity of immigrant and refugee led organizations (IRLOs).

Integrating Civic Participation and Adult ESOL,
New England Literacy Resource Center/World Education, January, 2005, 14 pp.
This article outlines an instructional approach that introduces adult English language learners to "democracy in action."  Since the federally-funded English Literacy/Civics program was first established in 2000, a number of educational providers have built in a practical, "justice-oriented" focus into their curricula. These programs include a "substantive" view of democracy along with the traditional "procedural" view. 

Pursuing Democracy's Promise:  Newcomer Civic Participation in America,
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees in collaboration with Funders' Committee on Civic Participation, 2004, 77pp

Written by Craig McGarvey, this report argues that immigrant civic participation is both "an end in itself and a means to other ends." Adopting a community organizing perspective, this report stresses the importance of participatory approaches to immigrant service and advocacy. features successful case studies from around the country and provides an evaluation framework for funders interested in supporting projects adhering to civic participation principles.

Lessons Learned about Civic Participation among Immigrants,
Association for the Study and Development of Community, September, 2002, 25 pp.
This report summarizes lessons learned from a project in the Washington, D.C., area to understand and promote civic participation among immigrant communities. Seventeen immigrant leaders from diverse backgrounds participated in an 8-month learning circle. The report discusses various dimensions of civic participation and gives concrete examples of how immigrant cultures and social organization can either block or support civic participation.

Aliza Becker & Heide Spruck Wrigley, Citizenship Education in Illinois:  What Works?,
Funded under a grant from the Illinois Dept. of Human Services to the Adult Learning Resource Center, August, 2000. 110 pp.
This report evaluates citizenship education services funded by the State of Illinois and the Fund for Immigrants and Refugees from 1995 to 2000. Surveys and interviews were done with representatives of 39 funded programs. The report describes Illinois' investment in citizenship education as a "model for the nation," not only because of the size of the investment but also because of the strategic decision to use ethnic CBO's to deliver those services.

facebook_opt.jpg
YouTubeshrunk.jpg

Links
Civic Participation
 
 

Promising Practices in
Civic Participation
 

Effective tactics used by immigrant-serving nonprofits in the 2012 election

 

News and Opinion
Civic Participation

 
How Boston Encourages U.S. Citizenship
National Journal, September 24, 2014

Measuring the Effects of Voter Identification Laws,
Nate Silver, The New York Times, July 15, 2012

Coming Soon: A Huge Wave of Second-Generation Immigrant Voters,
Rob Paral, Immigration Impact, April 16, 2012

Mayor: let all New Haven immigrants vote,
New Haven Independent, December 13, 2011

2010 naturalizations down from 2009,
The San Diego Union Tribue, April 7, 2011