The Civic and Political Incorporation of Immigrants in Non-Traditional Destinations

Awarded Scholars:
Kimberly Ebert, University of California, Davis
Project Date:
Nov 2007
Award Amount:
Project Programs:

In the spring of 2006, more than three million immigrants and their supporters marched not only through the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, but also in non-traditional gateways, like Greensboro, Memphis, and Salt Lake City. What prompts immigrant groups to engage in collective protest despite the risk of retaliation? What is the impact of political climate, threats, and segregation on newcomers’ civic and political engagement? To better understand the civic and political incorporation of new immigrants, sociologist Dina Okamoto will study collective action in non-traditional immigrant destinations. She will begin by examining instances in which immigrants organized protests in 32 metropolitan areas during the year 2000. So far, she has documented over 600 events for that year. In the second phase of the study, Okamoto will expand her data to include events in 58 metropolitan areas across the country that occured between 1990 and 2006.  In addition, Okamoto will compare immigrant experiences in non-traditional destinations to those in major gateways. This new longitudinal dataset will help Okamoto examine how context - including changing demographics, economic conditions, and political and civic opportunities - influences immigrant political incorporation and civic engagement. Okamoto argues that boundary markers – such as threats from anti-immigrant legislation and residential segregation – will heighten the immigrant/native-born boundary, leading immigrants to engage in protests and participate in civic events.


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