Measuring the Climate for Immigrants: A State-by-State Analysis Chapter uri icon


  • The phenomenon of subfederal immigration regulation, in which state and local governments enact laws regulating immigrants within their jurisdictions, has proven its staying power. Based on five years of empirical data (2005-2009), we observe that states have created widely divergent climates for immigrants with subfederal regulations. To measure climates, we construct an Immigrants' Climate Index (ICI) for each state based on state, city, and county government laws enacted in that jurisdiction. This index accounts for both negative laws (such as those that direct subfederal police to enforce federal immigration laws or limit access to employment based on immigration status) and positive laws (such as those that provide special benefits for immigrants or explicitly do not limit benefits based on immigration status).Based on these index scores, we note that states with faster growing unauthorized populations tend to enact more restrictive subfederal laws, creating negative climates for immigrants. Furthermore, states with larger unauthorized populations are more active in enacting immigration laws but interestingly, some of these states choose to create a positive climate for immigrants, while others choose to create a negative climate. Specifically, Arizona, Missouri and Virginia have the most restrictive immigration regulations while Illinois and California have the least restrictive.

author list (cited authors)

  • Pham, H., & Van, P. H.

Book Title

  • Strange Neighbors: The Role of States in Immigration Policy

publication date

  • January 1, 2014 11:11 AM