Geographies of Exclusion: The Importance of Racial Legacies in Examining State-Level Immigration Laws

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this article, I examine the decisions of Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah, Indiana, and most recently, Texas to pass restrictive immigration omnibus bills and analyze the factors associated with the decision of a state to pass its own immigration law, sometimes without explicit warrant. I focus on state omnibus legislation for two main reasons. First, this type of legislation has been the focus of much media attention. Second, omnibus legislation mimics comprehensive immigration legislation over which the federal government has sole authority. Additionally, I focus on the regional proliferation of restrictive immigration laws, and then bring my attention to the seven states that passed similar legislation. Individually, I examine the roll call votes by each state’s House of Representatives. By looking at immigration politics at a sub-national level, this article provides a more nuanced understanding of the political and ideological work of immigration policies. I argue that contemporary immigration politics at sub-national levels should not only be understood as a story about demographic changes and strictly partisan politics but also a story about the sociohistorical legacies of localities. The historical processes of race, and the differing ways in which places get racialized, influences, beyond partisanship, which representatives voted for and against restrictive immigration legislation. These differences, alongside state-level differences, I argue, continue to affect politics and policy today. Immigration policy has become a vessel through which to contest the politics of race, place, and power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-831
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


  • SB 1070
  • exclusion
  • geography
  • immigration
  • policy
  • regional
  • sub-national
  • subfederal


Dive into the research topics of 'Geographies of Exclusion: The Importance of Racial Legacies in Examining State-Level Immigration Laws'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this