Advocating for Structural Change? Exploring the Advocacy Activities of Immigrant-Serving Organizations in an Unwelcoming Policy Context
Keywords:immigration, Immigrants, policy advocacy, social service organizations, immigrant new destinations
The growth of the immigrant population in the United States has prompted a recent increase in the number of restrictive immigration policies at the state and local levels. The literature on policy advocacy and social service organizations suggests that these local providers can engage in political activities that challenge the restrictive nature of these contexts. This qualitative study explored how immigrant-serving social service organizations engage in policy advocacy in a state with restrictive, anti-immigrant policies. In-depth interviews with directors of 50 service providers in South Carolina clearly indicate a tension between the need for policy advocacy and the risks associated with engaging in such activities. Fifty percent (50%) of the providers in our sample reported engaging in some form of policy advocacy. However, their policy advocacy activities were often indirect, non-confrontational, and episodic. Most were engaged in coalitions and other forms of indirect advocacy tactics. We discuss implications for the social work profession and recommendations for future research, including the need to further explore the impact of policy advocacy efforts on changing the policy landscape in places that are unwelcoming to immigrants.
ACS (2015). As downloaded from the Migration Policy Institute. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/us-immigration-trends#history
Alba, R., & Nee, V. (2003). Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Allard, S. (2009). Out of Reach: Place, Poverty, and the New American Welfare State. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Allard, S., & Roth, B. J. (2010). Suburbs in Need: Rising Suburban Poverty and Challenges for the Safety Net. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution.
Almog-Bar, M., & Schmid, H. (2014). Advocacy Activities of Nonprofit Human Service Organizations: A Critical Review. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(1), 11–35.
Bass, G. D., Arons, D. F., Guinane, K., Carter, M. F., & Rees, S. (2007). Seen but not heard: Strengthening nonprofit advocacy. Washington, DC: The Aspen Institute.
Berry, J. M. & Arons, D.F. (2003). A voice for nonprofits. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Berry, J. M. (2005). Nonprofits and civic engagement. Public Administration Review, 65(5), 568–578.
Boris, E., & Mosher-Williams, R. (1998). Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations: Assessing the Definitions, Classifications, and Data. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 27(4), 488–506.
Cabell, M. G. (2007). Mexican Immigrant Integration in the U.S. Southeast: Institutional Approaches to Immigrant Integration in Owensboro, Kentucky. The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies.
Cordero-Guzman, H. R. (2005). Community-Based Organisations and Migration in New York City. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31(5), 889–909.
de Graauw, E. (2008). Nonprofit organizations: Agents of immigrant political incorporation in urban America. In Civic hopes and political realities: Immigrants, community organizations, and political engagement (pp. 323–50). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
de Graauw, E. (2014). Municipal ID Cards for Undocumented Immigrants: Local Bureaucratic Membership in a Federal System. Politics & Society, 42(3), 309–330.
de Leon, E., Maronick, M., De Vita, C. J., & Boris, E. T. (2009). Community Based Organizations and Immigrant Integration in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute.
Frasure, L. A., & Jones-Correa, M. (2010). The Logic of Institutional Interdependency: The Case of Day Laborer Policy in Suburbia. Urban Affairs Review, 45, 451–482.
Fyall, R. (2016). The Power of Nonprofits: Mechanisms for Nonprofit Policy Influence. Public Administration Review, 76(6), 938–948.
Garrow, E. E., & Hasenfeld, Y. (2014). Institutional Logics, Moral Frames, and Advocacy: Explaining the Purpose of Advocacy Among Nonprofit Human-Service Organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(1), 80–98.
Gleeson, S., & Bloemraad, I. (2012). Assessing the Scope of Immigrant Organizations: Official Undercounts and Actual Underrepresentation. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 42(2), 346–370.
Hall, M. (2013). Residential Integration on the New Frontier: Immigrant Segregation in Established and New Destinations. Demography, 50(5), 1873–1896.
Hung, C.-K. R. (2007). Immigrant Nonprofit Organizations in U.S. Metropolitan Areas. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 36, 707–729.
Kobach, K. W. (2007). Attrition through enforcement: A rational approach to illegal immigration. Tulsa J. Comp. & Int’l L., 15, 155.
Lewis, P. G., Provine, D. M., Varsanyi, M. W., & Decker, S. H. (2013). Why Do (Some) City Police Departments Enforce Federal Immigration Law? Political, Demographic, and Organizational Influences on Local Choices. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 23(1), 1–25.
Lichter, D., Parisi, D., Taquino, M., & Grice, S. M. (2010). Residential segregation in new Hispanic destinations: Cities, suburbs, and rural communities compared. Social Science Research, 39, 215–230.
Lietz, C. A., & Zayas, L. E. (2010). Evaluating qualitative research for social work practitioners. Advances in Social Work, 11(2), 188–202.
MacIndoe, H., & Whalen, R. (2013). Specialists, Generalists, and Policy Advocacy by Charitable Nonprofit Organizations. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 40(2), 119–149.
Marrow, H. B. (2005). New Destinations and Immigration Incorporation. Perspectives on Politics, 3, 781–799.
Marrow, H. B. (2009). Immigrant Bureaucratic Incorporation: The Dual Roles of Professional Missions and Government Policies. American Sociological Review, 74, 756–776.
Martin, N. (2012). “There Is Abuse Everywhere”: Migrant Nonprofit Organizations and the Problem of Precarious Work. Urban Affairs Review, 48(3), 389–416. https://doi.org/10.1177/1078087411428799
Marwell, N. P. (2004). Privatizing the Welfare State: Nonprofit Community-based Organizations as Political Actors. American Sociological Review, 69, 265–291.
Massey, D. S. (2008). New Faces in New Places: The Changing Geography of American Immigration. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Mellinger, M. S. (2014a). Beyond Legislative Advocacy: Exploring Agency,
Legal, and Community Advocacy. Journal of Policy Practice, 13(1), 45–58.
Mellinger, M. S. (2014b). Do Nonprofit Organizations Have Room for Advocacy in Their Structure? An Exploratory Study. Human Services Organizations Management, Leadership & Governance, 38(2), 158–168.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
Mitnik, P. A., & Halpern-Finnerty, J. (2010). Immigration and local governments: inclusionary local policies in the era of state rescaling. In M.
W. Varsanyi (Ed.), Taking Local Control: Immigration Policy Activism in U.S. Cities and States. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Mosley, J. (2013). Recognizing New Opportunities: Reconceptualizing Policy Advocacy in Everyday Organizational Practice. Social Work, 58(3), 231–239.
Mosley, J. E. (2010). Organizational Resources and Environmental Incentives: Understanding the Policy Advocacy Involvement of Human Service Nonprofits. Social Service Review, 84(1), 57–76.
Mosley, J. E. (2011). Institutionalization, Privatization, and Political Opportunity: What Tactical Choices Reveal About the Policy Advocacy of Human Service Nonprofits. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 40(3), 435–457.
Mosley, J. E. (2012). Keeping the Lights On: How Government Funding Concerns Drive the Advocacy Agendas of Nonprofit Homeless Service Providers. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 22(4), 841–866.
Mosley, J. E. (2013). The Beliefs of Homeless Service Managers About Policy Advocacy: Definitions, Legal Understanding, and Motivations to Participate. Administration in Social Work, 37(1), 73–89.
National Immigration Law Center (2014). https://www.nilc.org/2014/03/03/nr030314/
Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R. (2006). Immigrant America: A Portrait (Third Edition). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Portes, A., & Zhou, M. (1993). The New Second Generation: Segmented Assimilation and Its Variants. The Annals of the American Academy of Political & Social Science, 530, 74–96.
Ramakrishnan, S. K., & Wong, T. (2010). Immigration Policies Go Local: The Varying Responses of Local Governments to Low-skilled and Undocumented Immigration. In M. W. Varsanyi (Ed.), Taking Local Control: Immigration Policy Activism in U.S. Cities and States. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Reid, E. J. (2000). Nonprofit advocacy and political participation. Nonprofits and Government: Collaboration and Conflict, 291–325.
Singer, A. (2013). Contemporary Immigrant Gateways in Historical Perspective. Daedalus, 142, 76–91.
Varsanyi, M. W. (2008). Immigration Policing Through the Backdoor: City Ordinances, the “Right to the City,” and the Exclusion of Undocumented Day Laborers. Urban Geography, 29, 29–52.
Varsanyi, M. W. (2011). Neoliberalism and Nativism: Local Anti-Immigrant Policy Activism and an Emerging Politics of Scale. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35, 295–311.
Varsanyi, M. W., Lewis, P. G., Provine, D., & Decker, S. (2012). A multilayered jurisdictional patchwork: Immigration federalism in the United States. Law & Policy, 34(2), 138–158.
Copyright to works published in Advances in Social Work is retained by the author(s).