Project
Cities and Immigration

As ever larger numbers of people live outside the country of their birth and the world is increasingly urbanized, cities across the globe are being reshaped by immigrants. The increasing share of foreign born residents presents opportunities for local governments, and also challenges of social and political incorporation.  Urban uprisings in and around London, Paris, Stockholm, Singapore and elsewhere in the past decade have brought international media attention to the challenges of immigrant integration, while anti-immigrant riots in Moscow, Johannesburg, Calais, Tel Aviv, Rome, and other cities have highlighted resistance by urban residents to the arrival of the foreign born.  The increasing heterogeneity of cities has the potential to exacerbate urban fragmentation and entrench categorical inequalities based on race, religion, or national origin.  Nevertheless, cities have long been comparatively more diverse and inclusive than their respective nation-states, spaces where marginalized groups have created spaces of refuge and of empowerment.  How can urban policymakers ensure that even in times of economic uncertainty and rapid demographic change cities can become both more inclusive and more just for all, not more unequal and divided?

Immigration to the United States is generally seen as an issue of federal government policy, but cities and states are increasingly seeking to shape migration flows by passing local laws intended to welcome or to drive out the foreign born, especially those who are undocumented.  What explains why similar cities have responded so differently?  What are the social and political processes on the ground that shape the responses of residents and either facilitate or inhibit the incorporation of foreign-born residents into local economic, social, and political life?