This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

U.S. Local Governments’ Human Resource and Facility Engagement with Their Immigrants




Chen, Xiaofeng

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Political Science

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



Immigrants are an indispensable component of communities in the United States. Regarding the roles government of all levels play in immigration laws or/and services, the federal government plays a significant role in national immigration policies and state legislatures also retain their powers in passing their own laws or policies on immigration. Local governments also pass local laws, provide services and conduct inclusive programs for their immigrant populations. Over the past two decades, more scholars have begun to study local governments’ policies and decisions, with some scholarship focusing on local governments’ services for immigrants. Some studies regard the effect of immigrants on local employment and on local governments’ services for immigrants. However, what factors determine local governments’ staffing and facility engagement with their immigrant populations is an intriguing and unanswered question. To date, no scholarship has addressed the question: Why do localities differ in their facility and working staff engagement with their immigrants? This project aims to address that gap using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Utilizing 2018 Local Government & Immigrant Communities Survey (ICMA 2019), American Community Surveys (ACS) 2013-2017 (U.S. Census Bureau 2020) and data from three other sources, this project conducts a quantitative analysis of more than 1000 local governments across the United States to test, among several given theories, which factors influence local governments’ decisions concerning facility and staff engagement with their immigrants. This research also uses interviews and four case studies to explore how these factors influence local governments’ engagement with their immigrants. The findings show that in addition to the local needs factor and the political factor, some other unexpected factors such as immigrant organizations, the higher governments’ influence, and the network with other local governments all influence this engagement. The insights gleaned from this project will allow local governments to include the new factors and perspectives into their policymaking process regarding their immigrant populations.