Communities all over the nation are learning the difference between immigration policy and immigrant integration policy. The federal government has a responsibility to regulate how people come to and stay in this country. Meanwhile, local community leaders have a responsibility to ensure that all residents enjoy civic participation and economic success, regardless of where they are born.
When local governments consider how to engage new immigrant communities, some are tempted to compensate for the federal government’s failure to adequately regulate immigration. Punitive polices are designed to make life more difficult for certain immigrants, with the hopes that some may choose to leave. Unfortunately, such efforts often result in costly, unintended consequences for the city as a whole, and risk alienating entire sectors of the community.
TIRRC works with local communities in Tennessee to focus instead on immigrant integration, the two–way process by which new immigrants learn to fully participate in their new communities and receiving community members begin to broaden their sense of identity to make room for these new residents.