Creating Ties for Mobility: The Role of Community Organizations for Immigrant Parents in Urban, Poor Neighborhoods
Dina Okamoto is an Associate Professor of Sociology at UC Davis. Her research examines the social outcomes and processes related to ethnic and immigrant group integration in the U.S. She is particularly interested in understanding the conditions under which different ethnic groups cooperate, how community-based organizations shape the lives of immigrant youth, and the extent of immigrant civil and political participation in new immigrant destinations. Dina received her PhD from the University of Arizona and she was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in 2004-05. Her WCPC funded project seeks to understand how community-based organizations (CBOs) facilitate the economic and social incorporation of immigrants in two low-income neighborhoods in San Francisco, California. Immigrants from Asia and Latin America are among the fastest growing populations in the U.S. These newcomers may not have kin as a source of social support due to family disruption during the migration process, or they may have network ties to friends and kin who do not possess the social and economic capital needed to help increase prospects for social mobility. With the devolution of the welfare state, CBOs are now a key part of the mobility process for low-income individuals living in high-poverty neighborhoods as they provide access to education, housing, and work. She utilizes interview and ethnographic methods to gain an in-depth understanding of how CBOs work to provide resources for new immigrants and in turn, how immigrant parents view these local institutions and use CBO resources to aid in the transition out of poverty. Past research has focused on understanding the contexts that facilitate the economic mobility of immigrants, but the role of CBOs has been understudied despite the fact that these local institutions may be the only source of information and support for newcomers. The study seeks to fill gaps in the literature and inform policymakers and practitioners about the issues and challenges that immigrant families face in poor, urban communities and the role that CBOs play as possible mediators between government systems and immigrant families.