Immigrant Transnational Organizations and Development

Project Date:
Mar 2012
Award Amount:
$23,480
Project Programs:
Immigration

In 2004 and 2006, RSF supported a project led by Alejandro Portes to study ethnic and transnational organizations and their role in immigrant political incorporation in the U.S. The project was prompted by concerns that immigrant organizations, especially those of a transnational character, would prevent political integration among immigrants to the United States. That work has led to a much broader project involving systematic comparisons across six receiving countries, including the U.S., and transnational organizations from a diverse set of national origin groups –from South Asian Indian organizations in the United Kingdom, to Moroccan and Turkish organizations in Belgium, to Dominican and Ecuadorian organizations in Spain.

In the original study, Portes and his collaborators constructed an exhaustive inventory of organizations created by Colombian, Dominican and Mexican immigrants in the U.S. Results showed a near-absence of perceived conflict between transnational activism and political incorporation. Most organizations maintained close ties with U.S. political authorities and engaged in U.S.-centered civic and political activities. The authors concluded that, contrary to nativist fears, transnational activism and immigrant political integration were not at odds for these groups.

With RSF support, Portes will now put together the lessons from this cross-national study in a book. The book will present evidence from a coordinated study of transnational immigrant organizations in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, encompassing over 14 different national-origin groups. And it will assess the impact that different configurations of organizations—their leadership, membership, and activities—have on both developed and developing countries and on a host of policy domains –from trade, investment, and development assistance, to resource utilization and cooperation agreements.

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