The immigration-federalism nexus: Taking the subnational level seriously

In many federal states, subnational governments are increasingly involved in immigration policymaking (i.e. the recruitment, selection, settlement or integration of immigrants), which has resulted in the decentralization of powers and resources, and important policy developments at the subnational scale. My research aims at opening the black box of the vibrant subnational policy variations when it comes to immigration and integration matters. In order to draw both specific and general conclusions, this project is based on a comparative research design analyzing the involvement of 89 subnational units (regions, provinces, states and cantons) in immigration and immigrant integration policymaking in 4 federal states (Belgium, Canada, the United States, and Switzerland). The innovative character of this research is to look more closely at the subnational level, taking into account the diversity and the asymmetry that exist inside each federation (cross-regional analysis) and between different federations (cross-country analysis).

Contributing to public policy, immigration studies and immigration federalism literature, this project will pursue a twofold objective. In a first step (Objective 1), it strives to gather new and systematic data regarding subnational units’ engagement in various aspects of immigration policymaking. To have a more accurate picture of the situation, the information gathered will be operationalized by means of an index (SIPIX). In a second step (Objective 2), this project strives to understand the reasons why some entities have become engaged in this area. To explore the configurations and assess the factors, I will use a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to identify the drivers of subnational activity in immigration federalism.By its originality and its extensiveness, this research will both offer rich new scientific material and provide fruitful insights to understand the immigration-federalism nexus.