Immigration and Immigrant Integration

Submission Deadlines: See upcoming deadlines

The Russell Sage Foundation/Carnegie Corporation of New York 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 to the U.S. and for the U.S.-born of different racial and ethnic groups and generations. This initiative is part of RSF’s Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration Program which invites proposals on a broader set of issues.


For over 25 years, RSF has supported immigration research that has contributed to our understanding of (1) immigrant integration and intergenerational mobility, (2) political incorporation, and (3) the causes and consequences of immigration to new areas of settlement. Funded studies have shown the progress made by immigrants and their children, with immigrants becoming more like the U.S.-born over time, and with second and later generations becoming more like other U.S.-born citizens than their parents were. 

A 2016 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report confirms that, for 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 U.S.-born citizens, often within a generation. Nevertheless, the reports notes the continuing importance of legal status, race, and political culture, suggesting that immigrant incorporation into our society remains incomplete.

This initiative also seeks proposals regarding federal policy changes and the resurgence of nativism and anti-immigrant sentiment—from hate crimes to executive orders limiting refugee resettlement to barriers to access asylum protection and due process. And it invites studies 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 invite proposals 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, and social media data), and collecting their own data to measure the integration 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, visa type, parents’ and grandparents’ place of birth. Thus, we welcome proposals to improve the measurement of immigrant integration 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. We are open to the study of historical events which give insight into contemporary immigrant integration. Examples of the kinds of topics and questions that are of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

Legal Status

Legal status is a barrier to integration and economic progress, exacerbated by the criminalization of undocumented status and increased deportations of recent decades. Many of the unauthorized have lived in the U.S. for many years, 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. 

  • 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 U.S.-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 the socio-economic outcomes of children and youth?
  • What is the effect of the (actual or potential) loss of temporary legal status on DACA and TPS recipients?
  • What does the changing demographic composition of the undocumented mean for the future of immigrant integration?

Naturalization, Citizenship, and Civic Engagement

Millions of immigrant residents are eligible to become citizens, but naturalization rates in the U.S. are low compared to immigrant-receiving countries like Australia and Canada. 

  • Why are naturalization rates 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? 
  • To what extent does immigrant collective action advance integration?
  • How do institutions foster civic engagement?

Mixed-Ancestry, Ethnic Identity, and Integration

A pan-ethnic label and identity (for example, African American, Asian American, Latino/Hispanic) 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? 
  • 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 members of a pan-ethnic group? 

Race, Religion, Legacies of Exclusion, and Inequality

A 2016 NAS report on immigrant integration found that patterns of immigrant integration differ by race, with Black immigrants and their descendants experiencing a slower rate of integration than other immigrants. 

  • To what extent are the pathways to integration of immigrants from countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America affected by their racial status and/or by legacies of legal inclusion/exclusion?
  • To what extent do race, immigration status, and stereotypes affect public opinion about various immigrant groups, and how do these opinions affect immigrant and second-generation outcomes? 
  • What are the effects of economic disparity between immigrant 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. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic was accompanied by an increase in anti-Asian animus and a rise in reports of hate crimes, xenophobia, and violence.
  • What factors are associated with these forms of prejudice and discrimination? Are some subgroups more affected than others? 
  • How does this prejudice affect immigrant and second-generation economic, political, and social integration? For example, does this increase rates of naturalization or other forms of civic engagement? Does it create an opportunity for cross-racial mobilization?
  • In what ways, and with what consequences, are asylees and refugees changing public opinion about immigrants and immigration?

Politics, Political Culture, and Public Policy

Both politics and immigration policies affect the lives of immigrants. For example, pandemic era policies, such as Title 42 (a federal law meant to prevent the spread of communicable disease) and Migrant Protection Protocols (i.e., the Remain in Mexico program) justified expulsions, especially at the southern border.

  • To what extent does the treatment of immigrants by the various levels of government affect public support for immigrants and immigration policy? 
  • What is the effect of 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, such as field experiments, in-depth qualitative interviews, and ethnographies. RSF encourages methodological variety and inter-disciplinary collaboration. All proposals 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.

Funds can support research assistance, data acquisition, data analysis, and investigator time. Trustee Grants are capped at $200,000, including 15 percent indirect costs, over a two-year period. Presidential Awards are capped at $50,000 (no indirect costs), but at $75,000 (no indirect costs) when the proposed project has special data gathering (e.g., qualitative research) or gaining access to restricted-use data.

Selected References

Abramitzky, Ran, and Leah Boustan (2022). Streets of Gold: America’s Untold Story of Immigrant Success. New York: Public Affairs.

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).

Lee, Jennifer and Min Zhou (2015). The Asian American Achievement Paradox. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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.