De Graauw's research focuses on immigration, civil society organizations, urban politics, government bureaucracies, and public policy, with a focus on understanding how governmental and nongovernmental organizations build institutional capacity for immigrant integration and representation.
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Analyzes the over-time employment declines that refugees in the United States face, highlighting three interrelated structural weaknesses in the federal refugee resettlement process that drive these declines: (1) retrenched resettlement funding, (2) a logic of self-sufficiency prioritizing rapid employment in generally undesirable and unstable jobs, and (3) siloed networks of refugee-serving organizations.
Analyzes immigrant sanctuary policies in San Francisco between 1985 and 2018 to theorize the role of mayors in developing, defending, and adjusting city efforts to shield undocumented immigrants from federal immigration authorities. Identifies two mayoral leadership strategies—facilitative and executive—that vary with the level of scrutiny mayors face, from state and federal officials, over their lenient treatment of undocumented immigrants.
Examines how the focus on undocumented immigration in contemporary immigration debates has serious negative consequences for both U.S. immigration policy and immigrants, including an overwhelming emphasis on enforcement; legislative gridlock and the failure of comprehensive immigration reform; constitutional conflict resulting from tensions between national, state, and local approaches to dealing with undocumented immigration; and the absence of federal policies addressing immigrant integration.
Identifies, through an examination of municipal public funding for community-based organizations that serve disadvantaged immigrants in four cities in the Bay Area region of Northern California, the phenomenon of suburban free-riding where suburban officials rely on central city resources to serve immigrants, but do not build and fund partnerships with immigrant organizations in their own jurisdictions.