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Welcoming New Americans? Local Governments and Immigrant Incorporation, Abigail Fisher Williamson

Reviewed by George Hawley

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Survey data consistently show that large swaths of the American electorate favor restrictionist immigration policies. Politicians at the state and national levels regularly campaign on promises to crack down on undocumented immigration and discuss immigrants as a source of crime and a drain on resources. They are often rewarded at the ballot box for doing so. Yet these facts coexist with another trend: relatively few municipal governments pursue restrictionist policies at the local level. In fact, even in places where the GOP dominates, policies that accommodate immigrants are more common than policies designed to drive them away.

In her book Welcoming New Americans? Local Governments and Immigrant Incorporation, Abigail Fisher Williamson seeks to explain this apparent paradox. She succeeds in the endeavor, providing useful insights into the dynamics of local governments and their relationships with new immigrant populations.

Studying trends in municipal government policy can be a Herculean task, given the shortage of accessible data for the tens of thousands of city governments in the United States. This is especially challenging when considering immigration policy. Although discerning the use of some policies, such as the federal 287(g) program, is relatively straightforward, others are much more challenging. There is no central database l

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