Beyond the Ballot: Immigrant Integration Through Civic Engagement and Advocacy

Research paper by Zita Dixon, Melissa L. Bessaha; Margaret Post

Indexed on: 02 Jul '18Published on: 29 Jun '18Published in: Race and Social Problems


This conceptual article outlines the current literature on immigrant integration, immigrant civic engagement practices, opportunities to include other civic engagement activities into existing concepts of immigrant integration, and suggestions for future research and practice. The authors support a framework of civic and political integration of immigrants that goes beyond voting, and purposefully delineates categories that are commonly used to distinguish immigrants based on their eligibility for citizenship and participation in elections. Civic community organizing activities for all immigrants, regardless of citizenship status, can help build individual and community identity and empowerment as well as help mitigate stressors associated with immigrant feelings of social isolation. Implications for theory and practice on the role noncitizen immigrants play in the policy-making process and how they are received (or systematically left out) of this civic engagement process are also discussed.