Immigration and Immigrant Integration

Submission Deadlines: See upcoming deadlines

The Russell Sage Foundation/Carnegie Corporation Initiative on Immigration and Immigrant Integration seeks to support innovative research on the effects of race, citizenship, legal status and politics, political culture and public policy on outcomes for immigrants and for the native-born of different racial and ethnic groups and generations. This initiative falls under RSF’s Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration Program and represents a special area of interest within the core program, which continues to encourage proposals on a broader set of issues.


For over 25 years, RSF has supported immigration research that has made significant contributions to the study of (1) immigrant integration and intergenerational mobility, (2) political incorporation, and (3) the causes and consequences of immigration to new areas of settlement. This research has shown the significant progress made by immigrants and their children, with immigrants becoming more like the native-born over time, and with second and later generations becoming more like other native-born Americans than their parents were. 

Two recent reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) confirm that, across all outcomes for which data are available—education, income, residential integration, English language fluency, and living above the poverty line—the children of immigrants do better than their parents and reach parity with other native-born Americans, often within a generation.  Nevertheless, the reports highlight concerns regarding the continuing importance of legal status and race, as well as political culture and policy regimes, suggesting that immigrant incorporation into U.S. society remains incomplete.

This initiative is also responsive to recent federal policy changes and emerging concerns about the resurgence of nativism and anti-immigrant sentiment –from executive orders limiting refugee resettlement to barring travel from some Muslim-majority countries.  And it invites examination of the extent to which social and political institutions reinforce (or prevent) the goals of immigrant progress and integration.

Areas of Interest

RSF and the Carnegie Corporation of New York invite proposals for new research that will strengthen the theory, methods and empirical knowledge about the effects of race, citizenship, legal status, and the interplay of politics and policy on immigrant outcomes. Because of limitations in government statistics, researchers are curating and analyzing data from both public and private sources (e.g., specialized surveys, administrative sources from tax, social security and citizenship and immigration services, as well as social media), and collecting their own data to measure the progress of the foreign-born and their children.

Many of the questions listed below are difficult to answer because of data limitations (Blau & Mackie, 2016; Duncan & Trejo, 2016; Massey, 2010; Waters & Pineau, 2015) regarding age and time of arrival, time spent in the U.S., legal status at present and upon entry, including visa type, parents’ and grandparents’ place of birth, longitudinal data, and data linked across sources.  Thus, we welcome proposals to improve the measurement of immigrant progress over time and across generations.  We are especially interested in creative uses of administrative and other data sources that enhance our ability to identify immigrants by generation and legal status.

Examples of the kinds of topics and questions that are of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

Legal Status

Legal status represents a significant barrier to integration and economic progress, exacerbated by the criminalization of undocumented status and increased deportations since 1996.  Many of the unauthorized have lived in the U.S. for at least a decade, and nearly half are the parents of minor children, most of whom are U.S.-born.  Thus, legal status affects citizen children and spouses as well, with the effects varying with geography due to different state and local laws and institutions.  To what extent does providing temporary legal status and work permits on the one hand (e.g., administrative relief in the form of deferred action) or increased enforcement on the other affect immigrant outcomes?  What is the impact of employer behavior and preferences on immigrant economic integration?  How do assumptions about the legal status of the foreign-born, and their variance by racial, religious and other factors, influence the attitudes and behaviors of the native-born?  How do legal status differences affect the extent and the pace of integration in terms of education, labor market or political outcomes?  What are the implications of the criminalization of undocumented status (via intensified apprehension and deportation programs) for public safety, community cohesion, workplace health and safety, civic engagement, and for the socio-economic outcomes of children and youth?

Naturalization and Citizenship

Millions of immigrant residents are eligible to become citizens, but naturalization rates in the U.S. are low compared to similar immigrant-receiving countries like Australia and Canada.  Why are naturalization rates so low and what factors explain who, among the eligible, naturalizes?  To what extent does naturalization contribute to better social, political and economic integration of immigrants?  What is the causal evidence on the long-term impacts of citizenship?

Mixed-Ancestry, Ethnic Identity, and Integration

A pan-ethnic label and identity (for example, African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian American) includes many ethnicities, national origins and languages for groups that differ greatly in their economic and social status.  What determines the emergence of a pan-ethnic identity?   Are pan-ethnics more likely than other immigrants to form marital unions outside their own racial or ethnic group?  To what extent does having mixed-race (or mixed-ethnicity) parents affect the identities, inter-group attitudes, and the integration outcomes of these multi-racial children?  To what extent does selective attrition through intermarriage lead higher achieving descendants of immigrants to stop identifying as ethnics or as members of a pan-ethnic group?  To what extent are observed differences in integration outcomes due to different data sources (e.g., survey versus administrative data) and different measures of identity?

Race, Religion and Inequality

A recent NAS report on immigrant integration found that patterns of immigrant integration are shaped by race, with black immigrants and their descendants experiencing a slower rate of integration than native-born non-Hispanic whites.  To what extent are the pathways to integration of Latino immigrants affected by racial exclusion and/or by the large numbers of undocumented Latinos?  To what extent do race and immigration status affect public opinion about various immigrant groups?  What are the effects of economic disparity between immigrants groups, and between immigrant groups and native minorities, on inter-group relations?

Since 9/11, both Muslim immigrants and American-born Muslims have been the target of increased hostility and intolerance.  What factors are associated with this antagonism and how does this affect our social and political institutions?

Politics, Political Culture, and Public Policy

Both politics and immigration policies play an important role in American life.  To what extent does the treatment of immigrants by the various levels of government (i.e., signaling) affect levels of public support for immigrants and immigration policy?  What is the effect of U.S. refugee resettlement policy on the economic integration of refugees and asylees in contrast to those of other immigrants?  What is the long-term impact of initial conditions (a detention camp, a common location, or a dispersion policy) on integration outcomes for refugees and their dependents? What is the effect of immigrants’ experiences with government and the quality of the interaction on their attitudes towards government and government policies?

Application Information

We are particularly interested in analyses that make use of newly available data or demonstrate novel uses of existing data. We also support original data collection. Proposals to conduct field experiments, in-depth qualitative interviews, and ethnographies are also encouraged. 

The Foundation encourages methodological variety and inter-disciplinary collaboration. All proposed projects must have well-developed conceptual frameworks and research designs. Analytical models must be specified and research questions and hypotheses (where applicable) must be clearly stated.

Funding can be used for research assistance, data acquisition, data analysis, and investigator time for conducting research and writing up results. Trustee Grants are generally capped at $175,000, including 15% indirect costs, over a two-year period. Presidential Awards are capped at $35,000 (no indirect costs). PIs may request up to $50,000 (no indirect costs) when the proposed research project has special needs for gathering data (e.g.: qualitative research) or gaining access to restricted-use data.


Selected References

Blau, Francine and Christopher Mackie (editors) (2016). The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration.  Washington, D.C.:  The National Academies Press.

Duncan, Brian and Stephen Trejo (February 2016).  “The Complexity of Immigrant Generations:  Implications for Assessing the Socioeconomic Integration of Hispanics and Asians.”  NBER Working Paper.

Hainmueller, Jens, Dominik Hangartner and Giuseppe Pietrantuono (Forthcoming). “Catalyst or Crown: Does Naturalization Promote the Long-Term Social Integration of Immigrants?” American Political Science Review

Hainmueller, Jens and Dan Hopkins (2015). “The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes Toward Immigrants.” American Journal of Political Science. 59(3): 529-548. 2015. Winner of the American Political Science Association’s Best Paper Award for the study of Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior.

Jones-Correa, Michael and James A. McCann (June 2016) (Editors).  "Immigrants Inside Politics/Outside Citizenship," Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 2 (3).

Lewis, Ethan (2013).  “Immigrant-Native Substitutability and The Role of Language” in Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality, David Card and Steven Raphael, Eds. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, pp. 60-97.

Massey, D.S. (2010). Immigration statistics for the 21st century. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 631, 124-140.

Massey, Douglass, Jorge Durand and Karen A. Pren (2014) “Explaining Undocumented Migration.” International Migration Review 48(4):1028-1061. 

Peri, Giovanni and Vasil Yasenov (May 2016).  "The Labor Market Effects of a Refugee Wave:  Synthetic Control Method meets the Mariel Boatlift."  NBER Working Papers 21801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. 

Peri, Giovanni and Gaetano, Basso (2015). "The Association between Immigration and Labor Market Outcomes in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 9436, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). 

Rodríguez-García, Dan (Editor) (November 2015). “Intermarriage and Integration Re-Visited:  Experiences and Cross-Disciplinary Approaches.”  The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 662 (1).

Waters, Mary C. and Marisa Gerstein Pineau (editors) (2015). The Integration of Immigrants into American Society. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

Yoshikawa, H. (2011). Immigrants raising citizens: Undocumented parents and their young children.  New York: Russell Sage Foundation.


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