Migrant regularization implies the conditional provision of legal status to undocumented migrants in a host county and is generally predicated on employment conditions. “Regularization” refers to policies that promote or restrict the integration of irregular migrants into the formal economy. These policies include anti-solicitation, language access, local enforcement of federal immigration law, and employment verification policies. Research on migrant regularization has traditionally focused on national level policies due to the fact that immigration policymaking has traditionally been the sole prerogative of nation states. Research, however has documented increased instances of immigration related policy-making at sub-national levels of government in migrant receiving societies, yet there have been virtually no large scale studies that explore the political, social, and economic forces that influence the innovation of various types of these Local Migrant Labor Market Regularizations (LRs) and their patterns of vertical and horizontal policy diffusion. As a result, it is likely that the established knowledge base is largely constructed at a scale of analysis not necessarily aligned with contemporary processes of policymaking that surround migration.

This project examines the social, political, and economic factors that influence policy innovation and diffusion of (LRs) in the US, addressing the gap in the literature by examining the policy innovation and diffusion of LRs at the state, county, and city level in the US from 2001-2016. The project is positioned to contribute to the existing literature in at least three ways:

  • The study has updated and expanded  a unique and comprehensive policy database of LR policies in the US constructed by Visser (2016)
  • The project links information on the types of LRs passed with the specific labor market, social, and political characteristics of localities, counties, and states in the US to examine the factors influencing LR policy innovation and diffusion across geographic scales.
  • The study explores  how LRs are interpreted and represented within and across local, county and state contexts and transferred across geographies.


Related Publications:

  • Visser, M.A. and S.A. Simpson. (2021). Growth of Local Latino Populations Linked to Increase in County-Level Immigration Policy Adoption. Center for Poverty and Inequality Research: University of California, Davis
  • Simpson, S.A., M.A.Visser, and L. Daly. (In Press). Multi-scalar motivations for immigration politics and policymaking in US cities . Forthcoming in Cities.
  • Visser, M.A. & S. Simpson. (2018).  Determinants of County Migrant Regularization Policymaking in the US: Understanding Temporal and Spatial Realities. Environment and Planning A. DOI: 10.1177/0308518X18797134.
  • Visser, M.A. & S.  Simpson. (2018). Understanding Local Government’s Engagement in Immigrant Policymaking in the US. In  Darling, J. and H. Bauder (eds). From Nation to City: Rescaling Migration, Citizenship, and Rights. Forthcoming from Manchester University Press.
  • Visser, M.A. (2016). Reshaping Migrant Labor Market Geographies: Local Regularizations and the Informal Economy. Population, Space, and Place. 23(7).
  • Visser, M.A. (2014). Two Plus Two Equals Three: The Cost of the Hispanic Undercount in Government Census Surveys. American Review of Public Administration. 44(2): 233-251.