Bridging the gap: Transnational and ethnic organizations in the political incorporation of immigrants in the United States

Alejandro Portes, Cristina Escobar, Renelinda Arana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study was prompted by concerns about the ways in which immigrant organizations, especially those of a transnational character, may retard or prevent political integration among recent migrants to the United States. For this purpose, we constructed an inventory of all organizations created by Colombian, Dominican and Mexican immigrants in the United States, interviewed leaders of the twenty largest organizations from each group in person, and conducted a survey of 178 additional organizations by telephone or Internet. Results reveal a near-absence of perceived conflict between transnational activism and political incorporation. Almost without exception, leaders asserted that there was no contradiction between home-country loyalties and activities and US citizenship and voting. These results appear to reflect genuine conviction, rather than any social desirability syndrome. Objective indicators show that most organizations maintain close ties with US political authorities at various levels and engage in a number of US-focused civic and political activities. Determinants of such engagement are examined. Implications of the results for theory and public policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1056-1090
Number of pages35
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Volume31
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ethnocentrism
  • Human capital
  • Incorporation
  • Latin Americans
  • Organizations
  • Transnationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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