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Irene Bloemraad

Professor of Sociology, University of California-Berkeley

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About Irene

Bloemraad’s research examines the promise and challenges of reconciling contemporary immigration with democratic ideals of participation and equality. She studies both immigrants’ political integration – as citizens, voters, protestors and engaged community members – as well as native-born citizens’ reactions to immigration and diversity. Much of her research highlights the ways that social and public policy, around multiculturalism or the mitigation of economic inequality, eases tensions around diversity and democracy. In 2014-15, Bloemraad served as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences' blue-ribbon panel reporting on the state of immigrant integration into U.S. society. She is Director of the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative and also a Scholar with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. She has held visiting research positions at the Institute on Migration and Ethnic Studies at the University of Amsterdam and the Department of Sociology at Trinity College, Dublin.


Helping the Growing Ranks of Poor Immigrants Living in America's Suburbs

    Els de Graauw , Shannon Gleeson

In the News

Opinion: " No, California Doesn’t Have a Population Crisis," Irene Bloemraad (with Ethan Roubenoff), Los Angeles Times, February 26, 2023.
Quoted by Pilar Marrero in "Lo que viene en política migratoria para 2018: estos son los planes de Trump," La opinión, January 2, 2018.
Quoted by Pilar Marrero in "Rol de los estados y localidades "santuario" aumentará el próximo año," La opinión, December 28, 2017.
Opinion: "Canada Should Welcome America's 'Dreamers'," Irene Bloemraad (with Ratna Omidvar), The Globe and Mail, February 23, 2017.
Interviewed in "Maclean's on the Hill: Mr. Trudeau Goes to Washington," Maclean's, February 10, 2017.
Quoted by Jon Swartz and Jessica Guyunn in "Tech's Latest Start-up: Anti-Trump Activism," USA Today, February 7, 2017.
Quoted by Jason Tran in "UC Berkeley Professor’s Study Details Trends in U.S. Immigrant Integration," The Daily Californian, September 23, 2015.
Interviewed in "Integration a Double-edged Sword for Immigrants," Berkeley News, September 21, 2015.
Quoted by Thy Vo in "Are Lawsuits Always the Answer to Equal Representation?," Voice of OC, July 14, 2015.
Opinion: "The Key to Canada’s Immigration Success," Irene Bloemraad, Ottawa Citizen, April 2, 2014.
Opinion: "The Debate over Multiculturalism: Philosophy, Politics, and Policy," Irene Bloemraad, Migration Information Source, September 22, 2011.
Opinion: "Multiculturalism Has Been Canada’s Solution, Not Its Problem," Irene Bloemraad, Globe and Mail, October 28, 2010.


"Funding Immigrant Organizations: Suburban Free Riding and Local Civic Presence" (with Els de Graauw and Shannon Gleeson). American Journal of Sociology 119, no. 1 (2013): 75-130.

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.

""Staying Out of Trouble" and Doing What Is "Right": Citizenship Acts, Citizenship Ideals, and the Effects of Legal Status on Second-Generation Youth" (with Heidy Sarabia and Angela E. Fillingim). American Behavioral Scientist 60, no. 13 (2016): 1534-1552.

Asks whether parents' legal status as noncitizens or undocumented migrants leads U.S.-born youth to engage in active, compensatory political and civic participation or whether parents' legal exclusion generates apolitical, even alienated views of citizenship.

"Rights, Economics, or Family? Frame Resonance, Political Ideology, and the Immigrant Rights Movement" (with Fabiana Silva and Kim Voss). Social Forces 94, no. 4 (2016): 1647-1674.

Examines how potentially distinct "publics" or subgroups react, finding significant differences in frame resonance between groups distinguished by political ideology. Underscore the challenges confronting the immigrant movement and the need to reevaluate the assumption that historically progressive rights language is effective for immigrant claims-making.

"'Utter Failure' or Unity out of Diversity? Debating and Evaluating Policies of Multiculturalism" (with Matthew Wright). International Migration Review 48, no. 1 (2014): 292-334.
Reviews the existing empirical literature and offer some new statistical analyses to assess what we know about the harm or benefits of multi- cultural policies, focusing on sociopolitical outcomes. Argues that multicultural policies appear to have some modest positive effects on sociopolitical integration for first-generation immigrants and likely little direct effect, positive or negative, on those in the second generation.
"Being American / Becoming American: Birthright Citizenship and Immigrants’ Membership in the United States" Studies in Law, Politics and Society 60 (2013): 55-84.
Challenges universal birthright citizenship critics who contend that the practice flies in the face of liberal principles, in which both individuals and the state should consent to membership. Discusses how many immigrants equate “being American” with racial majority status, affluence and privilege and that membership through naturalization—the exemplar of citizenship by consent—does not overcome a lingering sense of outsider status.
"Does Immigration Erode Social Capital? The Conditional Effects of Immigration-Generated Diversity on Trust, Membership, and Participation across 19 Countries, 1981-2000" (with Christel Kesler). Canadian Journal of Political Science 43, no. 2 (2010): 319-347.
Examines how social and public policies might eliminate or exacerbate such relations. Argues that problems associated with diversity are much stronger in societies marked by significant economic equality, while countries with diversity and multiculturalism polices show many fewer negative effects on public-mindedness.
"Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada" (University of California Press, 2006).
Argues that greater state support for immigrant settlement in Canada and an official government policy of multiculturalism increase citizenship acquisition and political participation among the foreign born. Discusses the problems the U.S. experiences incorporating newcomers into the polity and suggests how successful political incorporation is not just a question of the type of people that countries receive, but also fundamentally of the reception given to them.