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This paper accounts for important shifts in the debate on immigration reform by considering the geographies of protest. Our findings point to the importance of urban hubs of activists and organisations that have worked with one another over extended periods of time. While these urban hubs constitute distinctive activist worlds, they have also connected to one another and coordinated nation-wide actions through a variety of networks (social media, interpersonal, and inter-organisational). Using interviews, network analysis, and data on funding, we show how this decentralised network evolved and eventually outflanked nationally centred and reformist advocacy organisations in recent anti-deportation campaigns.
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Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
ISSN: 1369-183X (Print) 1469-9451 (Online) Journal homepage:
The networked grassroots. How radicals
outflanked reformists in the United States’
immigrant rights movement
Walter J. Nicholls, Justus Uitermark & Sander van Haperen
To cite this article: Walter J. Nicholls, Justus Uitermark & Sander van Haperen
(2016): The networked grassroots. How radicals outflanked reformists in the United
States’ immigrant rights movement, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, DOI:
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The networked grassroots. How radicals outanked reformists
in the United Statesimmigrant rights movement
Walter J. Nicholls
, Justus Uitermark
and Sander van Haperen
Department of Planning, Policy, and Design, 300 Social Ecology I, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA;
Department of Sociology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
Amsterdam Institute for
Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This paper accounts for important shifts in the debate on immigration
reform by considering the geographies of protest. Our ndings point
to the importance of urban hubs of activists and organisations that
have worked with one another over extended periods of time.
While these urban hubs constitute distinctive activist worlds, they
have also connected to one another and coordinated nation-wide
actions through a variety of networks (social media, interpersonal,
and inter-organisational). Using interviews, network analysis, and
data on funding, we show how this decentralised network evolved
and eventually outanked nationally centred and reformist advocacy
organisations in recent anti-deportation campaigns.
Immigrant rights; social
movements; grassroots;
immigration reform
In spring 2013, the United States Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportu-
nity, and Immigration Modernization Act(S. 744) with resounding bipartisan support.
The bill would have provided half to two-thirds of the total undocumented population
(circa 11 million people) with legal status and eventual citizenship. The bill also introduced
many restrictions that made millions ineligible for legalisation. Ineligible and recently
arrived immigrants would face a surge in restrictive measures as the bill included $46.3
billion in additional funding for enforcement.
The legalisation of eligible immigrants
would therefore depend on reinforcing the illegality of many others. The Senate bill was
supported by the large national organisations advocating for immigrant rights including
the National Council of La Raza, Americas Voice, and Center for Community Change.
They accepted the restrictions as an unfortunate compromise needed to win over Repub-
lican support. By contrast, many grassroots organisations and activists balked. These
organisations worked closely with undocumented immigrants and had long struggled to
resist the Obama administrations deportation policies. They believed that the Senate
bill would institutionalise the divide between deservingand undeservingimmigrants,
and that those in the latter category would face intensied repression.
One of the organisations critical of the bill was Los Angeles-based National Day
Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).
In addition to supporting day labour
© 2016 Taylor & Francis
CONTACT Walter J. Nicholls
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organisations in localities across the country, it focused on ghting federal, state, and local
enforcement measures that placed day workers at greatest risk of detention and deporta-
tion. By summer 2013, NDLON escalated its efforts by reinforcing its ght against the
federal governments principal deportation measure (Secure Communities), openly criti-
cising the Senate bill, starting a national coalition to demand relief from deportation (the
Not 1 More campaign), and branding Obama Deporter in Chief. Early on in the cam-
paign, NDLON teamed up with undocumented youth activists (DREAMers) who had
pushed for the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) act in
the years before and would go on to play a major role in the Not 1 More campaign. As
the Senate bill perished in the House of Representatives and the Obama administration
continued its deportation policies, the tide of the national immigrant rights movement
started to shift in favour of NDLON and the DREAMers. After an intense campaign
that we will analyse in detailObama conceded. On 17 November 2014, the president
enacted an executive order to provide administrative relief to an expected four to ve
million immigrants. The executive order also called for ending the governments key
enforcement measure: Secure Communities. This was the broadest executive action on
immigration ever to have been issued in the history of the United States.
How did radical grassroots organisations achieve these successes? This paper shows
that grassroots organisations developed strong networks within cities and across the
country, which eventually enabled them to outank national advocacy organisations
and assume a leading role in shaping immigration reform. We show how activist clusters
worked together in a decentralised network. These local activist clusters consisted of acti-
vists and organisations that have worked with one another over extended periods of time.
The thickness of localised activist ties has enabled them to collectivise resources and
deploy them in a wide variety of struggles covering the gamut of immigration issues.
While these local hubs have constituted distinctive activist worlds, they have also con-
nected to one another and coordinated collective actions through a variety of networks
(social media, interpersonal, and inter-organisational). This decentralised network
stands in contrast to the centralised cluster of several large and resourceful national advo-
cacy organisations (National Council of La Raza, Americas Voice, and Center for Com-
munity Change). Whereas the centralised cluster became dominant in the late 2000s, the
decentralised network has become ascendant since the early 2010s. The failure of the
Senate bill and the enactment of the Obama administrations executive order signal the
shifting balance of power in the immigrant rights movement.
The rst section of the paper addresses the different theories that help explain for cen-
tralising and decentralising tendencies within the national social movement. The second
section examines these tendencies from empirical data. The remaining section examines
how NDLON and its allies introduced a bottom-up strategy to pursue reforms.
Centralisation, decentralisation, and network brokering
Reecting on the development of the immigrant rights movement, veteran activist Marisa
Franco points out a tension:
I see these developments neither as creating diversity within the movement nor fracturing it.
Social movements should be composed of an ecosystem of groups and political forces that
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each play different roles. Tension is part of the growth of a social movement; so is a diver-
gence of ideas.
(Dissent Magazine, Spring 2015)
This research is an effort to theorise and analyse the sort of tension Franco suggests. In
recent years there has been a growing literature on immigrant rights movements in
Europe and the United States (Ireland 1994; Koopmans and Statham 1999; Koopmans
et al. 2005; Voss and Bloemraad 2011; Nicholls 2013). The literature has revealed the dis-
cursive and political opportunities that channel mobilisations, the mobilising frames that
permit activists to gain support among immigrants as well as the broader public, and the
resources that permit mobilisations to grow and ourish. The mobilisations covered by
this literature often unfold in particular localities yet there is little effort to analyse the con-
ditions that make some cities (certainly not all) into important hubs in national-level
struggles. This partially reects the methodological nationalismof the social sciences
and the relative inattention to local and context-specic features in the immigration litera-
ture (Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2002; Glick Schiller and Çağlar 2009).
Local opportunity structures and networks
The eld of immigration politics has substantially changed with the localisation of immigra-
tion enforcement over the past 15 years. This has contributed to making localities into
important arenas of immigration debate and conict. Aggrieved local actors prefer to
target subnational levels of government with their claims because the costs of accessing
and inuencing federal-level decision-making bodies are prohibitively high for small organ-
isations, while a lower threshold for participation exists in local governments. This has
encouraged aggrieved local actors to transform the local arena into a major front in national
immigration battles. Many of these conicts remain local, often failing to produce much
effect in public debate. However, some small struggles take root and grow into larger mobil-
isations with regional and national reach. We identify two important factors accounting for
the capacities of local activists to develop and sustain their protests.
First, potential opportunities differ across localities. Historically progressive municipa-
lities provide activists with a favourable context to gain public support and develop allies
with important political elites (Walker and Leitner 2011; de Graauw, Gleeson, and Bloem-
raad 2013). Just as important, local politicians are oftentimes more concerned with main-
taining public order in their jurisdictions than they are with the legal status of their
residents. This can encourage some local politicians to take a pragmatic and more favour-
able stance on the activities of undocumented immigrants residing in their jurisdictions.
Second, certain contexts provide aggrieved actors with thicker and more diverse
support networks (Gould 1995; Diani 2004; Nicholls 2008). When early struggles for
immigrant rights emerge in these environments, campaign organisers can develop part-
nerships with other organisations possessing complementary resources (Nicholls 2008).
Sustained collaborations over extended periods of time fortify interdependencies, with
participating actors developing sophisticated and tacit knowledge of how best to pool
their collective resources. As these relations mature and thicken over time, participants
become adept in their abilities to tap locally situated resources (possessed by individual
organisations), combine these resources in collective projects, and deploy them in a
variety of increasingly risky campaigns.
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Networking and scaling up: the strategic work of brokers
Cities possessing political opportunities and supportive local activist networks are in a
stronger position to become a hub of urban activism and nurture small struggle into sus-
tained mobilisations. Connecting urban hubs in a national network involves a process of
scaling up (Miller 2001; Routledge 2003; Diani 2004; Tarrow and McAdam 2005). Scaling
up depends on the availability of brokers who can connect activists to potential allies
beyond their localities. For instance, some activists involved in localised struggles may
be members of national organisations or have connections to people in distant places.
Tarrow and McAdam (2005) argue that brokers do not simply introduce distant activists
to one another. They help to align goals, repertoires, and political imaginaries. They
connect local activists to previously unconnected outsiders by representing them in
ways that resonate with the norms, values, and goals of outsiders. This makes it possible
for activists to transcend localism and parochialism, align political projects, and coordi-
nate with others across geographical, sectoral, and ideological differences. When robust
activist hubs form in cities, brokers (like those in NDLON) can devise mechanisms and
infrastructures to connect certain activist localities into a loosely integrated network.
Within this broader conguration, the activist hubs function as relationally intensive
drivers: they use locally constructed, strong-tie relations to capture resources, energy,
and commitment from local activists and channel them into the broader political circuits
of the movement.
Our analysis is informed by a range of data sources collected over several years by the
First, we draw on semi-structured interviews with activists, an analysis of New York
Times articles on immigrant protests and immigration reform for the period 2000
2014; and a LexisNexis search on NDLON for the period 20132014.
Second, to assess the differential power of local organisations and national organis-
ations based in Washington DC, we developed a funding database. The nonrandom
sample consists of 49 immigrant advocacy organisations derived from three different
sources (reputations, the New York Times database, the Foundation Center). Tax forms
(IRS 990) provided information on the grants and contributionsreceived by the 49
organisations from the early 2000s to the early 2010s. The Foundation Center provided
data on foundations that have made grants to immigrant advocacy organisations. Based
on these data, we have been able to assess investments in the immigrant rights movement
and the types of organisations that beneted most.
Third, we analyse the development of networks across localities by collecting online
communication about the Not 1 More campaign between individuals (and organisations)
on Twitter. The slogan not 1 more deportationwas rst employed by DREAMers,
NDLON, and their close allies, and subsequently adopted by a range of actors across
the United States. We collected tweets containing the hashtag #not1more between 1
January 2013 and 1 September 2014. We assume a tie between individuals reciprocally
mentioning each other. In addition, geographical and other user information was
derived from accountsself-reported biographies. From this, a developing geographical
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prole of the #not1more campaign is outlined. These data allow us to reconstruct how the
campaign scaled between the local and national and to verify our expectation (based on
theory as well as the qualitative analysis) of a decentralised network.
The mobilising context of Los Angeles: shifting opportunities
The downloading of law enforcement responsibilities to localities has spurred specic and
localised conicts across the national space. At the national level, the Secure Communities
programme was preceded by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibil-
ity Act (IIRIRA), and was piloted in 2008 by the Bush administration and expanded in
2011 under the Obama administration. It has accelerated deportation rates from 30,039
immigrants per year in 1990 to 358,886 in 2008 and to 392,000 in 2011 (Johnson 2012;
Lopez and Gonzalez-Barrera 2013). Simultaneously many localities developed their own
independent policies to restrict irregular immigrants (Coleman 2007; Varsanyi 2008;
Walker and Leitner 2011; Strunk and Leitner 2013; Steil and Vasi 2014). These local
measures included restrictions on the solicitation of jobs by day labourers, penalties on
employers for hiring undocumented, prohibitions on renting property to undocumented
immigrants, the strict enforcement of housing codes, bans on street vending activities,
mandates on the use of English for city business (Steil and Vasi 2014, 1110). California
was one of the rst movers in this restrictive direction. In 1994, 59% of state residents
voted to support Proposition 187. The measure proposed severe cuts in assistance for
undocumented immigrants in health care, public education, and other social services.
Between 1989 and 2005, 60 local governments (municipalities and counties) in California
enacted ordinances to restrict the solicitation of work by immigrant day labourers, with 26
of those located in the Los Angeles metropolitan region (Gonzalez 2007, 16).
The city of Los Angeles during this period provided a supportive context for early
struggles against increasing restrictions. Progressive councilmembers like John Woo
and Michael Hernandez had long reached out to immigrant organisations. Moreover, in
1996 Manuel Contrerasa representative of the most progressive and immigrant-friendly
faction of organised labourwas elected to the presidency of the powerful Los Angeles
County Federation of Labor (Milkman 2006). In assuming leadership, Contreras
embraced the effort by several union locals to organise undocumented immigrant
workers in the service industry. His team also worked to make his organisation into a pol-
itical machine to elect labour and immigrant friendly politicians in Los Angeles and the
state (Meyerson 2005). Next to favourable political opportunities, Los Angeles also had
a comparatively strong activist network. The city possessed a fast developing social move-
ment infrastructure consisting of militant immigrant rights organisations, innovative
unions, and resource-rich university faculty and students (Milkman 2006,2010; Nicholls
2008). Immigrant rights organisations that had focused on addressing the legal and
material needs of refugees and asylum seekers in the 1980s were now turning their atten-
tion to the needs of the settled undocumented community (Hamilton and Chinchilla
2001). Several organisations in particular
mounted and participated in a series of long-
term campaigns to enhance the rights of immigrant workers (Milkman 2010).
Favourable opportunities and strong activist network combined to facilitate a series of
high-prole campaigns. One of the earliest and most prominent campaigns concerned the
ght for day labourer rights in Southern California. As early as 1989, the Center for
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Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) advocated for the creation of day labour hiring sites
(workers centres) in the city of Los Angeles. The workers centres would provide a safe
space for immigrants to sell labour, set a wage oor for competing workers, and
provide legal protections against wage theft and exploitation (Patler 2010, 77). CHIRLA
convinced the city of Los Angeles to address the growing issue of day labourers by nan-
cially sponsoring workers centres instead of banning day labour work, as surrounding
municipalities and the county of Los Angeles had done. CHIRLA obtained a contract
from the city to manage two workers centres in 1996, and it used this funding to hire a
permanent organiser. When the city expanded the day labour programme, CHIRLA col-
laborated with other immigrant organisations to open and manage the new centres.
Day labour advocacy bound several Los Angeles-based organisations together
(CHIRLA, IDEPSCA, CARECEN, El Rescate, and later NDLON). Day labourer advocacy
was complex and involved various elements. For instance, creating a new workers centre
required recruiting and politicising day labourers, creating support among key stake-
holders in a locality (lawmakers, unions, churches, and so on), pushing back on adver-
saries, and lobbying politicians. Maintaining a healthy centre required a different set of
skills and know-how. These included knowing how to negotiate with government ofcials,
ensuring that day labourers comply with the rules and norms of the centre, providing suf-
cient jobs for workers, and creating a nely tuned administration. Lastly, litigating
against day labour ordinances required legal knowledge and economic capital to mount
costly lawsuits. Good working relations between organisations with different and comp-
lementary resources allowed day labour advocates to mount a successful day labour cam-
paign that spanned the Los Angeles region. IDEPSCA, for example, was extremely skilled
in recruiting and politicising immigrant workers through the application of population
education. Allied legal organisations like the Mexican American Legal and Educational
Defense Fund (MALDEF) and Legal Aid played early and decisive roles in mounting
legal defences of day labourers and ghting local anti-solicitation laws.
CHIRLA and IDEPSCA expanded their operations by creating the Day Labor Associ-
ation of Los Angeles in 1997, which served as a model for a national coalition of organ-
isations working on day labour issues: the NDLON. The director of CHIRLAs day
labour programme (former president of IDEPSCAs Board of Directors) helped form
NDLON, and it operated under CHIRLAsscal sponsorship until 2008. It was designed
to serve as a national network between local immigrant organisations running day labour
advocacy programmes (like those in Los Angeles). It was in effect an attempt to scale up
the Los Angeles organizing model(Milkman 2006) and diffuse the repertoires, strategies,
resources, and knowledge developed in the city to organisations ghting similar battles in
localities around the country (Dziembowska 2010).
Centralising and nationalising the movement for comprehensive
immigration reform
A series of campaigns emerged from localities like Los Angeles, but the tendency in the
immigrant rights movement during the late 2000s was national centralisation. Develop-
ments in 2006 and 2007 presented new challenges and openings that accelerated efforts
by large advocacy organisations to centralise and nationalise the dispersed efforts. The
House of Representatives passed the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal
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Immigration Control Act of 2005 (the so-called Sensenbrenner Bill), which aimed to crim-
inalise undocumented migration status (Chavez 2008; Voss and Bloemraad 2011). The
Senate by contrast passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. The
Senate bill introduced a guest workers programme, a path to legalise millions of undocu-
mented immigrants, and new resources to enhance border enforcement.
Both the House and Senate bills failed to become law, but they encouraged national
organisations (Center for Community Change, Americas Voice, National Council of La
Raza, National Immigration Forum, among others) and their principal funders (Ford
Foundation, Open Society, Carnegie Corporation, MacArthur Foundation, Atlantic Phi-
lanthropies, NEO Philanthropy, among others) to create a more unied front in the
ght for immigration reform. Many believed that the political power of the emerging
immigrant rights movement was hampered by its heterogeneity and localism. This
limited its abilities to pool resources, focus on a common target, and communicate with
a common voice. The leading organisations and funders believed that the immigrant
rights movement should centralise and unify the different components of the national
movement under a common umbrella, and that this unied movement should focus exclu-
sively on winning the 279 Congressional votes needed to pass the Comprehensive Immi-
gration Reform Act.
National foundations played a pivotal role in enabling this strategic effort to nationalise
and centralise the movement. Following the failure of comprehensive reform in 2006 and
2007, the largest foundations increased their funding by substantial sums (New York
Times, November 14,2014). According to data from the Foundation Center, the largest
20 foundations increased their grants to the 49 immigration rights organisations in our
survey from $30.8 million in 2003 to $64.5 million in 2012 (see Figure 1). The 2006
2009 period marks the largest increase in funding, growing by a spectacular $25 million
per year. The Great Recession tempered the growth rates in 2010 but they resumed in suc-
ceeding years.
Figure 1. Total amount of grants by top-20 and top-10 of foundations.
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While there has been a substantial increase in investments from these and other foun-
dations, Washington DC-based national organisations have beneted the most. Based on a
survey of IRS tax lings (grants and contributions
) of 49 immigrant rights organisations
(national organisations in DC [13], national organisations outside DC [8], and local-
regional organisations [28]), we found important inequalities in the distribution of
grants and contributions. All immigrant advocacy organisations beneted from the
increased ow of money over the course of the 2000s but organisations located in
Washington DC beneted more than others. They started the decade with a substantial
advantage over the other organisations in our survey, but the gap widened after 2006.
Grants and contributionsgrew by 11.6% and 12.2% from 20062007 and 20072008
for national organisations in Washington DC but declined by 6.23% and 28.48% for
national organisations located outside Washington DC Organisations based in Washing-
ton DC retained nancial dominance in subsequent years. Drawing on the IRS data set for
the 19992012 period, National Council of La Raza, Center for American Progress, and
Center for Community Change dominate, respectively amassing $365 million, $270
million, and $180 million in grants and contributionsduring the 13-year period
(Figure 2).
The advantages of national, Washington DC-based organisations were not accidental.
Leading foundations believed that these organisations and their coalitions were important
for pushing immigration reform forward. Following the failure to push for Comprehensive
Immigration Reform in 2006 and 2007, grant makers believed that these organisations
needed to assume a leading role in a more consolidated, integrated, and centralised move-
ment. A leading strategist for the Atlantic Foundation remarked that,
After that setback, Atlantic provided funds for the key advocacy groups we supportinclud-
ing the Center for Community Change, National Council of La Raza, National Immigration
Forum and Asian American Justice Centerto regroup and come back with a proposal for
strengthening their efforts next time. The result was Reform Immigration for America
Figure 2. Grant-contribution by geographical attributes.
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(RIFA), a strong coalition with resources provided by Atlantic and other funders that have
enabled the movement to eld an unprecedented campaign. (LaMarche 2010)
The foundations provided more resources to Washington DC-based organisations while
inducing them to form a national immigrant rights coalition and assume leadership of
it. Atlantic alone invested $69 million in national organisations addressing immigration
issues (New York Times, November 14,2014). According to the Atlantic Philanthropys
database, no substantial funds were made available to smaller, local, and membership-
based organisations that made up the bulk of the immigrant rights movement.
The Atlan-
tic also nanced several retreats among leading organisations to create a strategic plan for
the national movement. The plan consisted of four pillars including a method to better
connect national leadership to local organisations, voter turnout, policy research to
underpin their pro-immigrant message, and an effort to bolster the communications
and messaging infrastructure of the movement (New York Times, November 14,2014).
The self-appointed leadership of the immigrant rights movement was therefore made
up of national advocacy organisations (mostly located in Washington DC) and funded
by wealthy foundations. Through the sponsorship of these foundations, the leadership
created an organisational and communication infrastructure to exert control over the dis-
parate organisations and actors constituting the national immigrant rights movement.
The election of Barack Obama to the White House and large Democratic majorities in
both chambers of Congress presented the leading organisations a unique opportunity in
2008. Many of the leaders believed that maintaining a unied front in the face of this
unique opportunity would help ensure the passage of Comprehensive Immigration
Reform. The White House and Congressional Democrats however prioritised economic
stimulus, nancial regulations, and health-care reform over immigration during the rst
two years after the election. Democratic leaders suggested that 2010 would be the year
for immigration reform. To pressure the White House and Congress to pass immigration
reform, the Atlantic-sponsored coalition Reform Immigration for America (RIFA)
mounted a large demonstration in Washington DC in March 2010. The organisers
demanded that immigration reform should be the rst issue on the administrations
agenda after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. A representative from the Center
for American Progress commented that,
We are trying to send a strong message that when health care is past us, this is the issue that
needs to be up at bat. Weve been in the bullpen for a long time, and now we want to show the
strength of the team and the power of the issue. (Angela Kelley, Center for American Pro-
gress, New York Times, March 20,2010)
RIFA and their partners invested millions of dollars and mobilised more than 100,000
people to the March 2010 demonstration. This enormous effort resulted in tepid commit-
ments by the White House and national politicians. The actual demonstration was over-
shadowed in the news cycle by the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and moderate
Republicans expressed scepticism about passing immigration reform during the year. If
the health care bill goes through this weekend, that will, in my view, pretty much kill
any chance of immigration reform passing the Senate this year(Senator Lindsey
Graham, New York Times, March 20,2010). The White House displayed limited interest
in pushing immigration reform before a hotly contested mid-term election. To make
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matters worse, the Obama administration continued to assert its commitment to mass
deportation programmes like Secure Communities.
In spite of these unsatisfying results, the leadership and funders tried to reframe victory
by stressing that the demonstration had resulted in greater White House access. A repre-
sentative from the Atlantic Philanthropies suggested that a one-hour meeting between
President Obama and national organisations justied the massive investments. The
value of this investment was starkly demonstrated last week when President Obama
met at the White House for an hour and fteen minutes with campaign advocates, includ-
ing seven of RIFAs steering committee members(LaMarche 2010). The multimillion-
dollar campaign won access to the White House, but it appears that access beneted
the power and positioning of the leadership while producing few if any policy wins. We
used the White House visitor records
to assess access to the Obama administration
(20092014) by the 49 organisations in our grants and contributionssurvey.
found that these organisations had a combined 745 visits to the White House. Just as
important, visits increased over the course of the presidency, from 42 in 2009 to 126,
121, 116, 169, and 171 in subsequent years. Indeed, the RIFA mobilisation coincided
with increased access but access (like grants) was not evenly distributed across the organ-
isations in our survey. National organisations headquartered in Washington DC had the
most White House visits (525), followed by national organisations outside Washington
DC (130), and local-regional organisations (90). Organisations like National Council of
La Raza and Center for American Progress had 115 and 81 visits, respectively. Most
local-regional organisations had very limited or no White House access. However,
larger local organisations in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston enjoyed
greater access as they became more active in DC-dominated coalitions (RIFA and its
later emanations) (e.g. CHIRLA had 13 visits). By contrast, organisations that remained
steadfast critics of the Obama administration had very limited access. NDLON, for
example, had four White House visits with relatively low-level ofcials. Figure 3 shows
that while Washington DC-based national organisations have dominated White House
Figure 3. Location and White House visits (percentages).
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access, dominance decreased from 81% of all White House visits in 2009 to 67% in 2014.
More access was granted in later years to organisations that played cooperative roles with
the Obama administration to push for White House-supported immigration reform.
According to one informant who requested anonymity, access has become a marker of
status and a means to maximise power within the movement. Access to the White House
provides a handful of organisations a monopoly over the distribution of high-value gov-
ernment information. By exercising this monopoly, organisations across the network
become dependent on the leadership for scarce information needed to map out political
opportunities and devise mobilisation strategies. Just as important, increased access is
used by advocacy organisations as a measure of success and legitimacy vis-à-vis large foun-
dations, which in turn can improve funding chances. White House access may not lead to
greater inuence over the design and passage of immigration policy but it does yield
shorter term benets like increased power, status, and economic capital of dominant
organisations. This however comes at the cost of reinforcing oligarchic tendencies in
the movement and magnifying conicts along centre-periphery.
Fighting deportation and enforcement measures through local, grassroots
Building up local strongholds
The two developments we outlined so farburgeoning local campaigns and failed
attempts to achieve immigration reform through centralisationcreated the precondi-
tions for a bottom-up revolt in the immigrant rights movement. Many grassroots organ-
isations went along with RIFAs strategy early on but massive investments and
insignicant outcomes led many to question the strategysefcacy. This challenged the
legitimacy of the national leadership and its strategy of national centralisation. A
former organiser of United We Dream (an undocumented youth organisation) put it
the following way, These community organizations struggle mightily. They are under-
staffed and overworked. Here the big national organizations are spending tons of
money for this march that doesnt even make the news. That was the beginning of the
end for RIFA(Former organiser, United We Dream, personal interview).
Strategic differences between central and peripheral organisations came into sharp
relief in response to Arizonas anti-immigration law S.B. 1070 in 2010. NDLON and
MALDEF, in cooperation with local allied organisations, had been organising in
Arizona since the mid-2000s. They formed a local coalition to protest the Maricopa
County Sheriff Departments belligerent role in 287[g] and Secure Communities pro-
grammes. They redoubled efforts in response to the passage of S.B. 1070, but their
efforts were rebuffed by RIFA. RIFA insisted that NDLON and its local allies should
focus energies on the national effort to pass the Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Act. Recounting his interactions with the RIFA leadership during the Arizona campaign,
the executive director of NDLON noted:
The director of Center for Community Change [leading RIFA organization] says that the
enforcement messaging is essentially taking away from their messaging, that its not the mes-
saging that we need to communicate to America, that its going to hurt us in the long-term.
So, obviously, we said, Were very sorry for that, but the thing is were not going to use the
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ght in Arizona and the suffering of people to help this [comprehensive reform] failed effort
S.B. 1070 is wrong on its own merits.’… We couldnt come to terms with them. (Director,
NDLON, personal interview)
NDLONs longer term aim in Arizona was to build a local activist infrastructure in
Arizona. NDLON had already developed good relations with local day labour activists
in the area and worked with them to create Puente in 2007. It provided services like
English as a Second Language courses and legal aid workshops. Puente also offered com-
munity defence courses that aimed to provide immigrant communities with methods to
exercise their rights when confronted by local police. After the passage of S.B. 1070 in
2010, NDLON worked with Puente to create a new organisation: Alto Arizona. Alto
Arizona functioned as the principal coordinating organisation of the Arizona campaign.
It also worked with Puente and their local allies to create Barrio Defense Committees
(BDC). The BDCs combined the self-defence tactics of the Black Panther Party with the
base communitymodel of the Latin American left.
In addition to building up a local social movement infrastructure, the Arizona cam-
paign employed boycotts in a way that helped extend the issue beyond the traditional
immigrant rights community. National and local politicians, businesses, entertainers, aca-
demics, and many others became involved in the Arizona campaign through their partici-
pation in the boycott. The boycott impacted Arizonas economy and reputation, negatively
affecting the states powerful tourist industry and drawing it directly into the campaign
against S.B. 1070. In a letter to the state legislature in March 2011, 60 business leaders
demanded that the state stop enacting repressive immigration measures. The letter
blamed last years bill [S.B. 1070] for boycotts, canceled contracts, declining sales and
other economic setbacks(New York Times, March 18,2011).While the campaign did
not convince the Arizona legislature and governor to repeal S.B. 1070, the United States
Supreme Court eventually struck down three out of four provisions. The Justice Depart-
ment went on to indict the Sheriff of Maricopa County for civil rights violations. The cam-
paign also contributed to ousting state Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce (the
principal sponsor of S.B. 1070) in a special runoff election. The campaign produced
what one prominent Republican state senator called immigration fatigue(John McCom-
ish, New York Times, March 18,2011). This was precisely one of the central goals of the
campaign: to raise the costs of restrictive measures as a way to dissuade other states from
copying them. Tom Saenz, the director of MALDEF, framed the Supreme Court victory in
these terms: [T]he decision sends a strong warning to any states or localities that have
enacted or that may be considering enacting their own immigration regulation schemes.
Through the Arizona campaign, NDLON and its allies began to develop an alternative
strategy to national centralisation by creating locally grounded coalitions to ght against
local and national enforcement measures. Between 2010 and 2014 NDLON went on to
consolidate this territorial strategy. The strategy aimed to build local mobilisation
capacities, and use wins in localities as leverage in broader political and policy battles.
First, building territorial strongholds required building up organisational capacity and
strong levels of cooperation in friendly and unfriendly territories. NDLON worked with
local allies in Arizona to harness local mobilisation capacities in pitched battles with
local and state government ofcials. The work of building local capacity in unfriendly
states continued through NDLONs work in Georgia and Louisiana during the course
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of the decade. After the Arizona ght in 2011, NDLON initiated another campaign in Los
Angeles against Secure Communities. It sought to pressure local and state ofcials to opt
out of the programme. NDLON and undocumented immigrant youths (DREAMers)
developed a strong network of elite allies in the Los Angeles area including the powerful
County Federation of Labor, Los Angeless Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the city council,
and inuential members of the state Assembly and Senate. It also drew support from the
many different local organisations. This coalition served as the base for a state-wide cam-
paign in 2012 to push for the California Transparency and Responsibility Using State
Tools (TRUST) act. This state law restricted Californias participation in the Secure Com-
munities programme. The state would only honour Immigration and Customs Enforce-
ment requests to hold undocumented immigrants for those people suspected of
committing certain felony crimes. The broad coalition succeeded in pushing Governor
Jerry Brown to sign the TRUST Act into law on 5 October 2013. Along with the California
Dream Act and a driver license bill for undocumented immigrants (passed in 2011 and
2013, respectively), the TRUST act contributed to making California into a sanctuary
for undocumented immigrants.
Second, local struggles have been used in broader political ghts. Arizona was selected
as a strategic battleground because NDLON and its allies wanted to protect immigrants in
the state but also because it was a strategic place to call broad attention to national and
local enforcement measures. By calling attention to these matters, NDLON and its allies
were able to exert pressure on the Justice Department to le suit against the Arizona
law and le charges against the Sheriff of Maricopa County for civil rights violations.
Just as important, battles in Arizona were used to warn other states and localities not to
pursue similar measures if they wanted to avoid costly ghts. Wins in local arenas
could under the right conditions produce leverage in the broader ght against enforce-
ment and deportation measures in other government arenas. Arizona and California
were, in other words, pressure points within the broader immigration system: focused
campaigns in these places could be used to extract wins and changes across the whole
system. An NDLON ally remarks that,
Theres a sense that were not going to get anything [from Congress] And because nothing
is happening in Congress, a lot of the ghts are going to be at the state level. We continue to
push Obama to stop deportations and suspend the Secure Communities. But our leverage
is increased when we get states to push the Feds. Now, some people dont agree with this strat-
egy and say, No, youve got to focus only on the Feds and Congress in particular.(Direc-
tor, CARECEN, personal interview)
The relative lack of political opportunities in Congress encouraged activists to pursue a
strategy to exert maximum pressure in strategic geographical sites (pressure points),
with wins in these sites used to increase leverage in other parts of the system.
Networking the grassroots
While territory was an important part of the strategy, NDLON and its allies connected
the grassroots through loosely networked national campaigns. The Not 1 More cam-
paign, launched in early 2013, was the most important vehicle for doing this. While
the national organisations embraced a 2013 Senate comprehensive immigration reform
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bill and sought to pressure House Republicans to pass it (largely reecting the Obama
administrations own wishes), NDLON and its allies criticised Democrats for making
too many concessions to xenophobes, denounced the Obama administrations record
on deportations, and called for the Obama administration to use its executive authority
to extend deportation relief to all undocumented immigrants (i.e. not one more
NDLON stressed that Obamas deportation policies would negatively affect his legacy
(Deporter in Chief) if he failed to enact an executive order to stop deportations. The
director of NDLON remarked that,
He is after all the Deporter in Chief. But things dont have to stall. By leading the immigra-
tion reform debate through actions [an executive order] and not just words, the President can
break the impasse and focus Congresss attention on getting something done this year. (Pablo
Alvarado, International Business Times News, August 9,2013)
The Not 1 More campaign employed a new and more decentralised strategy to scale out
from its territorial strongholds. No formal afliation has been required to become a
member of the network, and organisations have often connected through Twitter and
Facebook. Approximately six peoplefrom NDLON and its strategic allies
on the steering committee. A paid NDLON organiser served as director of the network.
The steering committee was charged with developing protest actions and creating mobi-
lising frames. These were transmitted to afliates across the country. The leaders of the
campaign did not direct the political acts and language of their distant allies. Instead,
they worked with one another on different kinds of actions (press conferences, hunger
strikes, civil disobediences, etc.), developed messaging and mobilisation frames, and dif-
fused information about actions to members across the country. The loose nature of
the campaign led some NDLON leaders to call it an open sourcecampaign.
Based on our analysis of Twitter activities, the campaign grew steadily from January
2013 until 16,113 unique accounts had used the hashtag #not1more by September 2014.
During the rst month of the campaign people become involved from the territorial
strongholds of the decentralised network (Figure 4). Initially, tweets about the issue and
reports from local direct actions are tied to the #not1more campaign from these geo-
graphical clusters.
Six months into the campaign these local urban clusters were further consolidated: Los
Angeles (14.5% of unique active accounts), New York City (13.8%), DC (11.4%), and
Chicago (11.3%).
Figure 4. Number of active accounts by county after 1, 3, and 20 months, between 1 January 2013 and
1 September 2014.
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Following these urban hubs, secondary regional hubs also appear in southern Florida,
eastern Texas, and northern California. After 20 months, the pre-existing activist hubs
remained the backbone of the campaign while people from across the nation became
involved in the campaign and part of the decentralised network of immigration struggles.
Activists from across the country adopted the Not 1 Moreframe and have blocked buses
carrying deportees, engaged in hunger strikes, and disrupted politiciansspeeches to call
attention to their cause. These were typically local events but their adoption of Not 1
Moreplaced local activism within a broader campaign. While most of the clusters in
this network showed a strong geographic orientation, the decentralised campaign also
increasingly shows brokering between a variety of sectors. Clusters with a shared organ-
isational orientation (most notably DREAMers, as well as Asian Pacic American organ-
isations, unions and faith-based organisations) have roots in different geographical
locations. Members of such organisations shared information across locations, contribut-
ing to the rising prominence of the Not 1 More campaign across the country.
The development of this campaign network thus helps to understand how the decen-
tralised strategy became increasingly inuential. The common application of the Not 1
More slogan imposes a high degree of strategic unity in a movement made up of many
different parts and a weak command and control infrastructure. National advocacy organ-
isations initially dismissed the Not 1 More campaign as an unhelpful distraction because it
drew the focus away from the strategy of pressuring House Republicans to pass a compre-
hensive reform bill. However, the increasing visibility and intensity of the campaign
among immigrant activists and the declining probability of comprehensive reform
prompted the national organisations to pivot and extend support to the campaign. Con-
gressperson Luis Gutiérrez commented on this shift in an interview with Politico magazine
in February 2014,
Its becoming something that you cant control. People have tried to control it. This admin-
istration has put inordinate pressure on people not to criticize the president on his immigra-
tion policy But in this low-grade civil war over immigration messaging, those who want the
president to act [enact an executive order]increasingly own the narrative. (Luis Gutiérrez,
Politico, February 20, 2014, emphasis added)
The slogan Deporter in Chiefis an illustrative example of such a narrative that rose to
national prominence, having been adopted from its origins in the periphery of the
network. The slogan rst appeared in August 2011, but was largely ignored until
DREAM activists employed the term in a banner drop on 29 May 2013 in Chicago. Start-
ing with initial reports of local activists about the action on Twitter, the slogan attracted
attention across the #not1more network that was already in place, facilitating the cognitive
work of brokering this slogan to others across geographic and sectoral boundaries. This led
to replication of the banner drop in other places like Oakland, California and Homestead,
Florida. It was also followed by the adoption of the slogan in other types of local direct
actions such as in marches in Los Angeles. Subsequently the slogan Deporter in Chief
garnered widespread attention when in March 2014 the executive director of National
Council of La Raza, Janet Murguía, used the slogan to denounce the President Obamas
deportation policies. She went on to note that his policies were leaving a wake of devas-
tation for families across America(Janet Murguía, New York Times, March 13,2014).
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As noted in the previous section, National Council of La Raza was the penultimate
status quo organisation in the immigrant rights movement, having had the strongest
ties to the Obama administration and greatest access to economic resources. Murguías
direct and critical stance marked a seismic shift. Other national organisations followed
suit and began to sharpen criticism of the administrations deportation policies. The
executive director of the Center for Community Change, a leading Washington DC-
based organisation, asserted that,
We assumed that a Democratic president who wanted to move immigration reform would
not pursue a strategy of deporting the people who he was intent on legalizing. That was a
totally wrong assumption. And there is a lot of anger about that (Deepak Bhargava,
New York Times, March 13,2014)
Other national organisations pressed the administration to change its enforcement and
deportation policies. On 4 April 2014 the President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka,
backed NDLONs Not 1 More campaign in a formal press release.
The executive director
of Americas Voice, Frank Sharry, went on to directly replicate NDLONs message that
Obamas legacy depended on enacting administrative relief, Does he really want to go
down as the deporter in chief,and the only thing that happened during his second
term was beefed-up enforcement and deportations? Hes the president. Hes got to take
action(New York Times, November 14, 2014).
An initially radical phrase like Deporter in chieftravelled through activist networks
from the periphery to the centre. While the phrase was initially pushed by activists
engaged in disruptive direct actions, over time more institutionalised actors in Washing-
ton DC also began to refer to Obama as the Deporter in chief. The momentum created
by NDLONs Not 1 More campaign ultimately pressured the Obama administration to
pass an executive order on 17 November 2014. The executive order would have extended
relief to an estimated four to ve million undocumented immigrants and repeal the
administrations vaunted Secure Communities programme. While these measures are
currently stalled in the courts, many in the immigrant rights community understand
that this was a signicant win and a major vindication of the bottom up, networked
How did radical grassroots organisations manage to outank resourceful NGOs and
achieve major changes in government policies? To answer this question, we have
mapped the evolving networks of NDLON, its allies, and its rivals. We have shown
how NDLONs radical discourse was initially conned to the periphery of the social move-
ment space but gained support as a local activist cluster consolidated. Los Angeles pro-
vided opportunities for a cluster of burgeoning day labour activists to organise in the
1990s and early 2000s. They worked with local partners to develop new ways to pool
their resources in the struggle to expand the rights of immigrant workers. During the
course of this struggle, they developed a strategic repertoire that produced a string of
local victories. Their successes allowed these Los Angeles activists to build a decentralised
network of local organisations working on similar issues (NDLON). The decentralised
network conguration enabled Los Angeles-based activists to connect to other
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organisations in localities outside Los Angeles. When shifting scale to a national campaign,
NDLON and its allies were able to activate these networks in a campaign to exert pressure
on the Obama administration.
NDLONs strategy was premised on the idea that immigration enforcement depends on
many different institutional points rather than a single locus of power (Congress). They
unleashed many campaigns to exercise pressure on these strategic points in order to
produce tremors across the whole system. While NDLON and its allies kept an eye on
Congress, they also targeted towns, counties, states, the Department of Homeland Secur-
ity, and the president. By supporting and sponsoring battles in these multiple terrains, they
have aimed to undermine the legal, institutional, and ideological foundations of the gov-
ernments deportation policies. The strategic and geographic characteristics of the move-
ment have become more complex than before, but the movement has by no means become
chaotic. Most advocates of this strategy have embraced a common vision that rests on
building bases of territorial power and networking urban activist clusters to pressure
state and national ofcials.
2. In an article on the immigrant rights movement, Politico reported that, The group most vocal
in its demands that Obama act on deportations is the National Day Laborer Organizing
Network(Politico, February 20, 2014).
4. Center for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Central American Resource Center
(CARECEN), El Rescate, Korean Workers Association (KIWA), Southern California Institute
of Popular Education (IDEPSCA), among others.
5. IRS lings for grants and contributionsexceed the sum reported by the Foundation Center
because it covers more grant sources and accounts for non-foundation support (contributions).
8. We only included meetings that were immigration specic. We did this by including repre-
sentatives who specically dealt with immigration issues for big organisations (e.g. Angela
Kelley for Center for American Progress), meetings with representatives from immigrant advo-
cacy organisations, or meetings held with Obama administration ofcials who explicitly work
on immigration issues (e.g. Cecilia Muñoz).
10. NDLON, United We Dream, Interfaith Community Organization (PICO),
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Undocumented immigrant youths, known as the Dreamers, rose to exceptional prominence in the American immigrant rights movement in the 2000s and 2010s. The Dreamers had considerable success in presenting themselves as assimilated and hard-working patriots worthy of regularization. While this strategy worked well in the media and politics, it also created a distance between the Dreamers and less privileged groups of undocumented immigrants. In 2013, just when they were widely recognized as legitimate, the Dreamers made the remarkable move to change their strategy: rather than presenting themselves as model immigrants uniquely worthy of regularization, they began mobilizing for policies benefiting all undocumented migrants. By documenting and explaining this change in strategy, this paper addresses the broader question of what separates and binds privileged and underprivileged subgroups in social movements.
... Still, experiences that are shared online occur in the places where we live and gather with others. Interactions on social media are intricately entangled with the geography of everyday life (Nicholls, Uitermark, and van Haperen 2016). A key reason for this is that different settings are conducive to different types of gatherings (Collins 2004), and social-movement-related interactions may be more common in certain locations. ...
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The Movement for Black Lives has connected millions of people online. How are their outrage and hope mediated through social media? To address this question, this article extends Randall Collins's Interaction Ritual Theory to social media. Employing semisupervised image recognition methods on a million Instagram posts with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, we identify four different interaction ritual types, each with distinct geographies. Instagram posts featuring interactions with physical copresence are concentrated in urban areas. We identify two different types of such areas: arenas where contention plays out and milieus where movement identities are affirmed. Instagram posts that do not feature physical copresence are more geographically dispersed. These posts, including memes and selfies, allow people to engage with the movement even when they are not embedded in activist environments. Our analysis helps to understand how different forms of engagement are embedded in particular places and connected through the circulation of social media posts.
... A social welfare perspective to refugee community organizations More recently, scholarship from interdisciplinary fields examine migrant organizations in terms of their more contextualized and dynamic, complex character. They are examined as actors that are multi-ethnic and class-based (Gnes, 2016), interconnected as part of a broader decentralized network (Nicholls, Uitermark, & van Haperen, 2016), evolving over time (Piacentini, 2015), and mobilizing diverse strategies (Babis, 2016;Hung, 2007;Vermeulen et al., 2016). A subset of such studies on migrant organizations, largely based outside the United States, focuses on what can be conceptualized as social welfare dimensions to refugeerun organizations, or aforementioned RCOs. ...
Whereas conventional theories depict the migrant organization in terms of its social and cultural dimensions, an emerging line of research expands “established models” of migrant organizations, empirically by widening the scope of analysis to include informal entities, and theoretically by taking account of their complex, dynamic functions. This study joins such discussions by examining the activities of refugee-run organizational entities, and then developing a synthesizing theoretical framework. Data were collected through 40 interviews of organizational leaders in 30 U.S. states, using Bhutanese refugees as case study. Findings suggest five types of “welfare support activities” of refugee-run grassroots organizations, and thus a repositioning within their institutional network, raising questions about organizational legitimacy and access to resources.
While activists have effectively used the #blacklivesmatter hashtag to organize protests against police brutality and racism, this success has also drawn out many who use the hashtag to express their opposition. How do supporters of the Movement for Black Lives and their opponents coordinate on Twitter? Drawing on a corpus of 18.5 million tweets, this paper compares coordination among supporters and opponents of #blacklivesmatter in terms of relations and spatialities. We elaborate two different models of coordination: the swarm and the grassroots. Compared to their adversaries, supporters of #blacklivesmatter are more strongly rooted in places and embedded in local relations, suggesting that their online activism builds on grassroots communities. Opponents can be differentiated into two categories. One group consists of conservatives that are rooted in places but in a markedly different geography than supporters; they are more often located outside of major cities and outside of the coastal states. A second group of digitally networked extreme right opponents coordinates more in the fashion of a swarm: they synchronize without being rooted in places or embedded in local relations. These findings demonstrate that movements and countermovements benefit from the affordances of social media in different ways.
This article contributes to the literature on the pathways of incorporation of undocumented immigrants in the United States by providing insights into the perspectives of street‐level bureaucrats implementing policies seeking to increase college access at the state level. Results from a survey of public‐school counselors in New Jersey show that most counselors have limited knowledge of the policies that affect undocumented students’ access to college, whether those policies concern attendance or eligibility for in‐state tuition and financial aid. Those who are familiar with these laws have usually sought specific professional development on their own rather than relied on training provided by their employers. Results also indicate that counselors who work in urban areas and majority‐Latino institutions had greater knowledge of these policies than those working in suburban and rural areas or in predominantly white schools. This article highlights the role of place in the bureaucratic incorporation of undocumented immigrants at the state level, specifically investigating the type and level of services that this group receives in the public education system. We also contribute to the public policy literature by showing the effects of ad hoc implementation of inclusive policies by street‐level bureaucrats.
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Building on the scholarship that theorises the restructuring of cities within neoliberal globalisation, this article calls for a comparative scalar approach to migrant settlement and transnational connection. Deploying a concept of city scale, the article posits a relationship between the differing outcomes of the restructuring of post-industrial cities and varying pathways of migrant incorporation. Committed to the use of nation-states and ethnic groups as primary units of analysis, migration scholars have lacked a comparative theory of locality; scholars of urban restructuring have not engaged in migration studies. Yet migrant pathways are both shaped by and contribute to the differential repositioning of cities. Migrants are viewed as urban scale-makers with roles that vary in relationship to the different positioning of cities within global fields of power.
Social movements, like all social phenomena, are geographically constituted. Although social scientists increasingly stress the importance of the context of social action, the geographical constitution of social movements has received comparatively little attention. Increasingly, however, there are exceptions to this generalization. Contemporary approaches to the study of the geography of social movements proceed from the position that the social and the spatial are inseparable, and that social struggle is simultaneously geographical struggle. The resources and barriers that social movements draw upon and encounter e.g., money, skills, collective identities, social networks, political opportunities, grievances have their own geographies, giving rise to a geographically differentiated landscape of protest. Likewise, the social relations that social movements attempt to change are geographically specific; change in those relations often necessitates change in the geographic constitution of those relations. Social movements, explicitly or implicitly, must formulate geographically specific tactics and strategies that affect the likelihood of their success or failure.
By focusing on the less turbulent years in between the social upheavals of the Paris Commune of 1871 and the 1848 Revolution, Gould reveals that while class played a pivotal role in 1848, it was neighbourhood solidarity that was a decisive organizing force in 1871. Baron Haussmann's massive urban renovation projects between 1852 and 1868 dispersed workers from Paris' centre to newly annexed districts on the outskirts of the city. Residence rather than occupation quickly became the new basis of social solidarity. Drawing on evidence derived from trial documents, marriage certificates, reports of police spies and the popular press, Gould demonstrates that this fundamental rearrangement in the patterns of social life made possible a neighbourhood insurgent movement; whereas the insurgents of 1848 fought and died in defence of their status as workers, those of 1871 did so as members of a besieged urban community.
From Alaska to Florida, millions of immigrants and their supporters took to the streets across the United States to rally for immigrant rights in the spring of 2006. The scope and size of their protests, rallies, and boycotts made these the most significant events of political activism in the United States since the 1960s. This accessibly written volume offers the first comprehensive analysis of this historic moment. Perfect for students and general readers, its essays, written by a multidisciplinary group of scholars and grassroots organizers, trace the evolution and legacy of the 2006 protest movement in engaging, theoretically informed discussions. The contributors cover topics including unions, churches, the media, immigrant organizations, and immigrant politics. Today, one in eight U.S. residents was born outside the country, but for many, lack of citizenship makes political voice through the ballot box impossible. This book helps us better understand how immigrants are making their voices heard in other ways.