Immigration Politics in a Multilevel Jurisdictional Field: A Case Study of Orange County, California with Walter J. Nicholls, University of California
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This research addresses how metropolitan regions are strategic spaces for pro- and anti-immigrant social movements. In particular, we ask how do different jurisdictions in metropolitan regions impact the strategies of pro- and anti-immigrant advocates? Immigration scholars maintain that policy emerges from multiple jurisdictions operating at different levels of government. However, many scholars of immigration activism continue to conceptualize activism as unfolding within single jurisdictional containers. This paper aims to close the gap between conceptions of the institutional field and conceptions of activism through a case study of contentious immigration politics in Orange County, California during the 2010s.
The paper maintains that a multilevel jurisdictional field distributes political opportunities unevenly to advocates on each side of the issue, shaping the strategic options available to them. How activists respond to these options depends on the distribution of resources to each side across this complex political space. The combination of political opportunities and resources determine the strategies that pro- and anti-immigrant advocates pursue. The paper shows that advocates on both sides were not contained within single jurisdictional walls. Instead, they developed complex geographical strategies that sought to exploit opportunities in friendly jurisdictions to combat threats from unfriendly jurisdictions.
Walter J. Nicholls is Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine.
His primary research interests are urban politics and policy, social movements, and immigration. He is the author of The Immigrant Rights Movement.Stanford University Press, 2019; Cities and Social Movements (with Justus Uitermark). John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2017; and The DREAMers. Stanford University Press, 2013.
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