More Inclusive States, Less Poverty Among Immigrants? An Examination of Poverty, Citizenship Stratification, and State Immigrant Policies
Over the last 20 years, policymaking related to immigrant populations has increasingly been conducted at the state-level. State immigrant polices may influence immigrant poverty by determining immigrants’ level of access to social, economic, political, and health resources and by shaping the social environment. Further, these immigrant policies may shape the stratification between citizens and noncitizens, potentially contributing to distinct patterns of disparities in poverty by both citizenship and race/ethnicity. To assess the relationship between immigrant policy and socioeconomic stratification of immigrants across citizenship status and race/ethnicity in the U.S., we combined data from the 2014 American Community Survey and a measure of level of inclusion of state immigrant policies. We estimated fixed-effects logistic regressions to test the associations between poverty and the interaction of level of inclusiveness, citizenship, and race/ethnicity, controlling for state- and individual-level characteristics. Results showed that there are significant disparities in poverty by citizenship status and race/ethnicity. Asian/Pacific Islander (API) noncitizens experienced lower levels of poverty in states with higher levels of inclusion. Both Latino and API citizens experienced lower levels of poverty in states with higher versus lower levels of inclusion. Among Latinos, the gap in poverty rates between noncitizens and citizens is larger in more inclusive than less inclusive ones, suggesting that the potential positive impact of more inclusive environments does not necessarily translate to the most vulnerable Latino group. The level of inclusion was not associated with differences among Whites and Blacks. Findings suggest that states with more inclusive immigrant policies may foster environments that advance the economic well-being of API noncitizens, as well as API and Latino citizens.
KeywordsImmigration Poverty Citizenship State policy Race/ethnicity
The authors acknowledge the support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the Meharry Medical College.
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