State Policies on Immigrant Integration: An Examination of Best Practices and Policy Diffusion

Report Author: 
Allan Colbern and Karthick Ramakrishnan
Original Date of Publication: 
February, 2016

This paper focuses on actions being taken by states, counties and municipalities that bolster immigrant integration.  The authors believe that since comprehensive immigration reform is stalled at the federal level, these sub-federal level activities are growing in importance and influence.  Drawing on research and the input of participants in several focus group discussions, the authors review findings in four specific domains: policymaking, implementation, organizational capacity and community-engaged research.  For each topic, they provide examples from multiple locales and provide suggestions for best practices.  A key theme that emerges as part of the discussion is the need to think carefully about how immigrant integration efforts should be framed.  The authors suggest that advocates should draw on a broader sense of community, rather than focusing on the needs of one segment of society.  For example, they believe that themes of public safety, workforce development and the ideals of non-discrimination are likely to generate support for immigrant integration policies.  The authors also argue for a strategy of incremental policy change, rather than comprehensive reform packages. They believe that this approach is less likely to generate backlash and creates precedents that can be built on.  In keeping with this approach, the authors stress the importance of long-term planning and see the value of investing time and resources in network building, especially coalitions connecting groups working on related issues.  They believe that anti-immigration forces are well coordinated, so all of those in favor of immigrant integration must work together (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).


Download here or view report

 An Examination of Best Practices and Policy Diffusion


Colbern, A., & Ramakrishnan, K. (2016). State Policies on Immigrant Integration: An Examination of Best Practices and Policy Diffusion (Working Paper No. 1) (p. 20). Riverside, CA: University of California, Riverside. Retrieved from

Source Organization: