Suburban battles over immigration: a case study of local day labourer policies.

de Wilde, Marieke, Walter J. Nicholls, and Floris Vermeulen.

Ethnic and Racial Studies 44, no. 16 (2021): 44-62.


Over the past thirty years, there has been an increase in the number of immigrant day labourers in the United States. The presence of day labourers has led to numerous conflicts in municipalities. Some locals benefit from the labour performed by day labourers and believe they do no harm, while others see them as “illegal” immigrants that pose a threat to the community. For many, the legitimacy of day labourers remains uncertain, which opens a space for opponents and supporters to push for competing policies. Uncertain legitimacy and back and forth conflicts result in policies that are continuously being tugged between exclusionary and inclusionary measures. Whereas much of the literature on local immigration policies suggests that subnational governments opt for either exclusionary or inclusionary measures, this paper reveals the volatility of local immigration policies and the blurring of lines between them.

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