The Impact of Immigration on States and Localities

Before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Audrey Singer explained the impact of immigration on local communities, including how foreign-born settlement patterns have shifted during the past 15 years, the local role in integrating these newcomers, and, finally, a proposed federal response.

Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today about the effects of immigration on states and localities. My research focuses on comparative metropolitan settlement patterns and the responses of local communities to immigration.

My comments today will focus on three interrelated areas.

  • How settlement patterns of immigrants have shifted during the past 15 years, and how many areas with no history of immigration are experiencing recent and rapid influxes.
  • How although states and local areas have no control over who enters the country, local institutions and leadership shape the prospects for immigrant integration.
  • Finally, drawing on existing models, I will suggest a role for the federal government in helping states and localities with immigrant integration through funding to coordinate public policy explicitly and strategically aimed at immigrants.

As Congress continues to debate federal immigration reform, states and localities will deal on their own with many issues that they view as the responsibility of the federal government. The elements of immigration reform must include border and interior enforcement, an employment verification system, new worker program, visa reforms, and an earned legalization program.I will make the case that there should be a federal program that helps states and localities with immigrant integration so it is not left entirely in their hands.