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The Dark Side of Immigrant Integration Policies: Day Laborers in the United States

This article uses the case of immigrant day laborers to examine how municipalities develop policies to integrate immigrants. In the 1990s and 2000s, local elected officials adopted integration policies to address the issues raised by the presence of
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  The Dark Side of Immigrant IntegrationPolicies: Day Laborers in the United States  Walter J. Nicholls University of California, Irvine  ABSTRACT This article uses the case of immigrant day laborers to examine how municipalities de- velop policies to integrate immigrants. In the 1990s and 2000s, local elected officialsadopted integration policies to address the issues raised by the presence of day laborers intheir jurisdictions. While first drawing on cases from around the country, the study thenhomes in on the case of Pasadena, California, to examine the implementation of integrationin a moderately liberal city. The results reveal that many officials embraced both disciplinary and punitive tactics, making use of worker centers, aggressive ticketing, and solicitation bans for the purposes of controlling and governing an illegalized population. Some policiesinstitutionalized the subordination of the population and heightened its deportability. Thepaper complicates the presumed binary between restrictive and integrative policies. KEYWORDS :  immigration; day labor; local government; integration; illegality. In 2005, the Arizona state legislature debated a bill, HB 2592, which aimed to prohibit public fundingof day labor worker centers. Immigration had become a contentious issue in the state, and day laborers bore the brunt of the public’s criticism because most were poor, newly arrived immigrants who searched for work in very public spaces. Politicians supportive of the ban argued that the“illegality” of the immigrants made it impossible for cities to support worker centers. One legislatorcontended that, “It’s not right for taxpayers’ money to be used to foster illegal-alien hiring halls”(Dias 2005). Other municipal officials opposed HB 2592. They viewed worker centers as a pragmatic way to move disruptive laborers off the streets and into centers where they could be surveilled anddisciplined. Law enforcement could be used to punish those who stayed on the streets and persisted with disorderly behavior. For proponents in the government, worker centers were part of a strategy to govern new immigrants through disciplinary and punitive means.This study examines local integration policies through the case of day laborers. From the 1990sonwards, day laborers presented local officials with what policy scholars call a “wicked problem” 1 (Rittel and Weber 1973). Most of the laborers were poor and recently arrived immigrants. They  This paper would not have been possible without the assistance of my research assistant, Marieke de Wilde. The PasadenaCommunity Job Center also provided access to staff, members, and archives. I would also like to express my gratitude to the anony-mous reviewers for their extremely helpful comments. The author may be reached at the Department of Urban Planning and PublicPolicy, University of California, Irvine, in Irvine, California 92697; telephone: (949) 824-6323; email: “Wicked” problems are problems that are nearly impossible to solve due to complex interdependencies, incomplete and contra-dictory information, and conflicting consequences to implemented solutions (Rittel and Weber 1973). V C  The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:   1 Social Problems  , 2019, 0, 1–15doi: 10.1093/socpro/spz033 Article D ownl   o a d  e d f  r  om h  t   t   p s :  /   /   a c  a d  emi   c . o u p. c  om /   s  o c  pr  o /   ar  t  i   c l   e- a b  s  t  r  a c  t   /   d  oi   /  1  0 .1  0  9  3  /   s  o c  pr  o /   s  pz  0  3  3  /   5  5  8  0 4 2 1  /   b  y  g u e s  t   on 0  3  O c  t   o b  er 2  0 1  9   often searched for day work in visible locations, such as busy streets and parking lots in predomi-nately white suburbs (Esbenshade 2000; Gonzalez 2007; Martin, Morales, and Theodore 2007; Theodore et al. 2015; Valenzuela 2014; Valenzuela et al. 2006). As pockets of day laborers flourished, local officials struggled to address this disruptive population. Two prominent strategies emerged. A restrictionist strategy sought to govern through force—depriving day laborers any support andrepressing them through local and federal law enforcement. The alternative strategy, integration,aimed to control the population through the application of disciplinary tactics (establishing workercenters) and punitive measures (giving citations for violating ordinances). Both strategies intro-duced different methods to govern illegality: one by banishing “abnormal” and illegalized subjectsand the other by normalizing them through the constant application of disciplinary and punitivetechniques (Dean and Villadsen 2016; Foucault 1976 , 2004; Inda 2006). Thus, this study asserts that restrictive and integrative strategies are different methods with the same goal: governing ille-galized people.This study problematizes the immigration literature’s tendency to conceptualize immigration poli-cies through the use of binary categories. Integration’s use of punitive techniques unsettles the analyt-ical and normative distinctions between the two strategies. That said, integration programs such as worker centers have proven to be more constitutional, humane, and effective than zero-tolerancerestrictions (Bloemraad 2006 , 2007; De Graauw 2016; De Graauw and Bloemraad 2017; Martin et al. 2007; Mel  endez et al. 2013). While recognizing these advantages, this work reminds scholarsthat most elected officials adopt integration for the purpose of producing “docile bodies” and normal-ized subjects (Foucault 1976 , 2004; Inda 2006). I examine the case of immigrant day laborers in the 1990s and mid 2000s by first analyzing local battles across the country and then homing in on the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena. I selected thisperiod because it is only lightly covered by scholars of subnational immigration policies. Highlightingthis earlier period allows us to identify how integration policies emerged from iterative and conten-tious processes that resulted in a patchwork of measures devised to govern and control migrantpopulations.The first two empirical parts of the paper examine local struggles to craft governing strategiesaround the country. The third part focuses on Pasadena, California. The local immigration literatureoften divides cases into politically liberal and conservative jurisdictions, highlighting the presumably liberal policies in the former (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York) and the conservative ones inthe others (Hazleton, Maricopa County, Nashville) ( Amenta 2017; Coleman 2012; De Graauw  2014 , 2016; Steil and Ridgely 2014). By selecting a moderately liberal city such as Pasadena to reveal the punitive underpinnings of integration, I assert that such underpinnings are widespread and not afunction of political ideology, party, or local particularities. INTEGRATING ILLEGALITY   Integration and Illegality The literature on the governance of immigrants has largely focused on two separate themes: integra-tion and illegality; here I combine the themes by conceiving integration as a strategy to governillegality.Scholars have examined how governments, subnational and national, develop policies to accom-modate and integrate immigrants (Bloemraad 2006 , 2007; De Graauw 2014 , 2016; De Graauw and Bloemraad 2017; Martin et al. 2007; Mel  endez et al. 2013). Bloemraad (2006 , 2007) argued that the traditional sociological literature on immigration has focused more on economic and cultural integra-tion than on political integration. Politically empowered immigrants, according to this perspective,engage in broad civic debates while demanding supportive programs and resources from the govern-ment. These programs, Bloemraad observes, are “a way of promoting equality, preventing domination by the majority, and dismantling barriers to full participation” (2007:320). 2    Nicholls D ownl   o a d  e d f  r  om h  t   t   p s :  /   /   a c  a d  emi   c . o u p. c  om /   s  o c  pr  o /   ar  t  i   c l   e- a b  s  t  r  a c  t   /   d  oi   /  1  0 .1  0  9  3  /   s  o c  pr  o /   s  pz  0  3  3  /   5  5  8  0 4 2 1  /   b  y  g u e s  t   on 0  3  O c  t   o b  er 2  0 1  9   The integration literature juxtaposes accommodating and restrictive policies. Restrictive policies aim toextricate and repel immigrants but they are, according to this line of argument, often counterproductive.They drive immigrants into hiding and reduce their willingness to cooperate with authorities, which com-plicates the achievement of core governance functions (Theodore and Habans 2016). Integration and re-strictionist policies are, consequently, conceived through a binary lens, with the former expandingopportunities and participation for immigrants and the latter aggravating their marginalization.Recent studies of subnational immigration policies have added a geographic dimension to the integra-tion literature (Cleveland and Pierson 2009; Coleman 2012; Provine et al. 2016; Ramakrishnan and  Wong 2014; Varsanyi 2008 , 2014). Subnational governments have assumed greater responsibility for de-  veloping immigration policies. The literature suggests that governments that enact accommodating poli-cies significantly improve the welfare and opportunities of resident undocumented immigrants. Thesecities, according to De Graauw, “can utilize their discretionary administrative powers to develop initiativesthat safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of all city residents, regardless of their immigration or citizen-ship status” (2016:324). Other subnational governments embrace restrictive policies ( Amenta 2017; Varsanyi 2008). The proliferation of accommodating and restrictive policies at the subnational level resultsin what Provine and her colleagues call a “multijurisdictional patchwork” (2016:41).The illegality literature approaches the issue of governance differently (Chauvin and Garc  es-Mascare ~ nas 2012; De Genova 2002 , 2004 , 2013; Golash-Boza 2015; Inda and Dowling 2013; Menj  ı var and Abrego 2012; Menj  ı var and Kanstroom 2013). De Genova (2002 , 2004) argues that il- legality is not necessarily about banishing migrants but about constructing legal conditions that ren-der migrant labor susceptible to repression and exploitation: “The legal production of ‘illegality’provides an apparatus for sustaining Mexican migrants’ vulnerability and tractability – as workers – whose labor-power, inasmuch as it is deportable, becomes an eminently disposable commodity” (DeGenova 2004:161). Menj  ı var and Abrego (2012) add that law serves to naturalize illegality and inflict enormous violence against a whole class of people. They note that, “although there is insufficientfunding and inadequate means to actually deport all undocumented immigrants, the perennial threatof deportation is encoded in the law” (2012:1391).I incorporate the concept of political integration into the illegality framework. By doing so, restric-tion and integration are conceived not as opposed to one another but as two different strategies de- vised by government officials to achieve a common goal: the control of illegalized people in their jurisdictions. One strategy, restriction, uses punitive techniques and spectacles to spread terror in im-migrant communities (De Genova 2013). The other, integration, governs by separating deservingfrom undeserving immigrants and deploying disciplinary methods to normalize the former and puni-tive techniques to repress the latter (Chauvin and Garc  es-Mascare ~ nas 2012; Joppke 2007; Schinkel and van Houdt 2010; Triadafilopoulos 2011). Importantly, the two strategies are not mutually exclu- sive and often become entangled with one another. Implementation of a restrictive strategy (e.g., nopublic support for centers, outlawing the public solicitation of work) can lead to protests and costly lawsuits while failing to resolve the problem (Nicholls and Uitermark 2016; Steil and Ridgely 2014). These disadvantages can motivate local officials, irrespective of party affiliation, to adopt integrationpolicies because they are less dramatic, less costly, and stand on firmer constitutional ground.However, when integration fails to adequately control the disruptive population, frustrated officialsmay amplify punitive measures and criminalize deviant immigrants, thereby edging the strategy closerto the restrictive end of the spectrum. Thus, restriction and integration strategies sit on different endsof the government control spectrum. The line separating them is constantly blurred and redrawn aspolicy makers struggle to meet the demands of competing constituencies. Governing Illegality through Integration  As a normative theory, integration rests on an understanding of citizenship that is civic and liberal, yet well bordered (Bosniak 2006 , 2007 , 2010; Brubaker 1992). A well bordered nation with a strong The Dark Side of Immigrant Integration Policies    3 D ownl   o a d  e d f  r  om h  t   t   p s :  /   /   a c  a d  emi   c . o u p. c  om /   s  o c  pr  o /   ar  t  i   c l   e- a b  s  t  r  a c  t   /   d  oi   /  1  0 .1  0  9  3  /   s  o c  pr  o /   s  pz  0  3  3  /   5  5  8  0 4 2 1  /   b  y  g u e s  t   on 0  3  O c  t   o b  er 2  0 1  9   national identity is viewed as a precondition of a solidary, egalitarian, and democratic political com-munity (Motomura 2012 , 2014; Song 2009; Tambini 2001:203). “Boundedness,” Bosniak observes, “governs at the community’s edges, while inclusiveness prevails within” (Bosniak 2007:396). With borders accepted as a necessary evil, not all immigrants can expect inclusion and rights.Integration theory uses affiliation or attachment to the country to discern deservingness (Carens2010; Motomura 2012 , 2014; Song 2009). Markers of affiliation include cultural assimilation, rooted- ness, economic contribution, and willingness to “play by the rules”: According to affiliation-based arguments, the ties that unlawful migrants have built within theUnited States deserve recognition. These ties might be based, for example, on migrants’ lives asproductive members of their communities who contribute to the economy through work, taxes,and civic participation, and whose U.S. citizen children make or will make similar contributions.(Motomura 2012: 376)Motomura goes on to explain the importance of these contributions: “Contributions to American so-ciety, especially if substantial, can offset prior acts even if those acts are viewed as clear violations”(Motomura 2012:377). Affiliation offsets “clear violations” and lessens the stigma of illegality, making some appear deserv-ing of membership. These seemingly deserving immigrants are, according to Chauvin and Garc  es-Mascare ~ nas, placed into “a probationary logic of inclusive subordination by which ‘citizenship tech-nologies’ extend to groups otherwise framed as ‘illegal’” (2012: 248). Policy makers devise programsor “citizenship technologies” (e.g., worker centers, language and culture programs) to provide deserv-ing immigrants support while surveilling and normalizing their conduct (Cruikshank 1999; Dean and  Villadsen 2016; Foucault 1976; Inda 2006; Rose and Miller 1992). Equally important for integration is the use of punitive techniques to coerce undeserving immigrants (unaffiliated, unassimilated, recentarrivals, poor, criminal) into compliance or to remove them from the community altogether(Chauvin and Garc  es-Mascare ~ nas 2012; Inda 2006). Echoing Bourdieu, integration as a strategy to govern illegality therefore consists of a left and righthand (Bourdieu 2000; Wacquant 2015). The left hand devises measures to surveil, discipline, and normalize affiliated and deserving immigrants (e.g., worker centers for day laborers) while its righthand deploys punitive techniques to repress unaffiliated and undeserving people. Punitive techniques,such as anti-solicitation ordinances and aggressive ticketing, result in warrants and misdemeanorcriminal records, which, in turn, increase the deportability of immigrants ( Amenta 2017; Golash-Boza 2015). The more that punitive practices outweigh disciplinary ones, the more the strategy inches to- wards the more restrictive end of the government control spectrum.Local officials often contract out the delivery of integration programs to nonprofit organization(service-oriented and advocacy) (De Graauw 2016; Nicholls and Uitermark 2016). In spite of their different goals, ideologies, and sources of legitimacy, many nonprofit organizations working withimmigrants depend on government financial support and must submit to regular oversight. Resourcedependency and government oversight can contribute to the alignment of goals and values(DiMaggio and Powell 1983) and transform organizations into “relays” of state power (Cruikshank  1999; Dean and Villadsen 2016; Rose and Miller 1992). However, some nonprofit organizations may   balk, because government goals can conflict with their own goals and weaken their legitimacy in im-migrant communities. Moreover, some immigrants may resist government control and persist withdeviant behavior. By alienating immigrants and organizations, integration can generate what Foucault(1976:101) once called a “wild fragment”, that is, an illegalized population that refuses integrationinto or banishment from the order of things.Thus, while local officials intend to use the strategies of restriction and integration to control ille-galized people, the methods for doing so generate a multiplicity of new resistances or “wildfragments.” This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to develop a fixed policy to govern illegality  4    Nicholls D ownl   o a d  e d f  r  om h  t   t   p s :  /   /   a c  a d  emi   c . o u p. c  om /   s  o c  pr  o /   ar  t  i   c l   e- a b  s  t  r  a c  t   /   d  oi   /  1  0 .1  0  9  3  /   s  o c  pr  o /   s  pz  0  3  3  /   5  5  8  0 4 2 1  /   b  y  g u e s  t   on 0  3  O c  t   o b  er 2  0 1  9   once and for all. Instead, policy makers continually recalibrate the balance between discipline andpunishment in their unceasing quest to achieve control.  METHODS Most of the disputes and policies addressed in the paper occurred or were implemented in suburbsand semirural towns. Immigrants began to move to suburbs at a faster rate than to central cities inthe 1990s and 2000s (Provine et al. 2016). Fast population growth in areas with historically low num- bers of immigrants intensified disruptions and conflicts (Provine et al. 2016; Ramakrishnan and  Wong 2014; Walker and Leitner 2011). Inspired by political ethnography, this study attempts to capture the subtle and everyday processof policy making ( Auyero and Joseph 2007). I employ several sources to do this. The analysis of local battles across the country draws heavily from a national newspaper database modeled on Koopmansand Statham’s political claims analysis (Koopmans and Statham 1999). The day labor database con-tains claims covering the period between 1990 and 2014. My research assistant and I gathered news-paper articles through LexisNexis searches with the keyword “day laborer.” All editorials, opinionarticles, and letters to the editor were excluded.The database consists of 1,503 newspaper articles, from which 12,652 claims were extracted. A  claim  is a statement made about an issue by people in different groups (claimants), including govern-ment officials, organizations, and individuals (Koopmans and Statham 1999). Because of the unevenscope of the LexisNexis search engine, this is not a representative sample. The database includes 75newspapers from localities across the country. Five newspapers accounted for 51 percent of all claims.These were, in order of importance:  Washington Post   ,  New York Times  , the  Atlanta Journal and Constitution  ,  Orange County Register   , and the  San Jose Mercury . The  Chicago Tribune  and the  Los Angeles Times  were not included in LexisNexis. However, regional newspapers from metropolitan Los Angeles were available. We extracted information about articles (date published, newspaper, title, author(s), brief descrip-tion, location) and claimants (name, type, affiliation). Actual claims were coded according to fourthemes: general attitudes of day laborers (positive, negative, neutral), problem framing, solution fram-ing, and justifications for preferences.For attitudes, we attributed a numerical code (1 supportive, 0 neutral, -1 unsupportive). The datashow that 19 percent of claims were unsupportive of day laborers, 44.9 percent were neutral, and33.1 percent were supportive. The average attitude score for the entire period was .15. The scoreremained fairly constant for the period. Government claimants (federal, state, county, municipal)took mostly neutral or negative stances on the issue (see Table 1). Organizations (unions, churches,nonprofits) and individuals were decidedly more positive.Last, the database found differences between central metropolitan and suburban areas. For in-stance, the attitude score of Los Angeles County was .17, which compared favorably to OrangeCounty (-.05) and San Bernardino County (-.02). Similarly, New York City (.38) compared favorably to the suburban area of Suffolk County (-.06). Table 1.  Attitudes to Day Laborers Year Anti-Day Labor Neutral Pro-Day Labor (NA) Total Government 25.02% 63.73% 8.88% 2.36% 100%Organization 16.47% 39.24% 41.33% 2.96% 100%Individual 14.61% 28.12% 53.48% 3.79% 100% Total 19.02 %  44.9 %  33.1 %  2.98 %  100 % Source:  LexisNexis The Dark Side of Immigrant Integration Policies    5 D ownl   o a d  e d f  r  om h  t   t   p s :  /   /   a c  a d  emi   c . o u p. c  om /   s  o c  pr  o /   ar  t  i   c l   e- a b  s  t  r  a c  t   /   d  oi   /  1  0 .1  0  9  3  /   s  o c  pr  o /   s  pz  0  3  3  /   5  5  8  0 4 2 1  /   b  y  g u e s  t   on 0  3  O c  t   o b  er 2  0 1  9 
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