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Foregrounding race and racism in immigration research is a critical priority because the majority of immigrants in the US are people of color, and conceptions of race intersect with the lived experiences of immigrant communities at multiple levels. Historical and structural racism have also shaped immigration policies and other policies that lead to disparities in outcomes. Yet the intersections between the US immigration system and racism have been neglected in both policy and policy research circles. This is critical for understanding the experiences of all immigrants of color and their descendants, including Latino immigrants, whose identities have been racialized, as well as Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and other immigrants who have received less attention in policy research but constitute a rising share of new immigrant arrivals. These issues were explored in a September 2021 virtual workshop on centering race and structural racism in immigration policy research that convened leaders in policy research and advocacy. Discussions focused on how race and structural racism influence the experiences of immigrants, who policy research has left out, and which policies and issues demand research attention. In addition, the discussion explored how immigration policy researchers can work with community partners and address data limitations. This brief provides key priorities and themes discussed during the workshop and identifies promising practices, ideas, and considerations for better addressing the intersections between immigration, race, and structural racism in policy-oriented research.
Many immigrant families have avoided safety net and pandemic relief programs in recent years over concerns that their participation would have adverse immigration consequences. These chilling effects on program participation occurred in the context of a restrictive immigration policy environment under the Trump administration, including the expansion of the "public charge" rule. Though the Biden administration has reverted to prior guidance on the public charge rule and reversed many other immigration policy changes, chilling effects may continue to deter adults in immigrant families from seeking safety net supports for which they or their children are eligible.This study draws on Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey data collected in December 2020 and interviews conducted with adults in immigrant families and people who work at organizations that connect immigrant families to health, nutrition, and other support programs in California. The interviews were conducted between March and May 2021, in the early months of the Biden administration, offering unique insights as policy priorities were shifting.