Mediation Integration: Latino Immigrant Organizations in Boston

Originally published by Revista Interdisciplinar da Mobilidade Humana

December 1, 2009
Amy Moran Lowe (2008 Public Policy Summer Fellow)

In recent years scholars have debated the role of immigrant organizations in the processes of integration, political incorporation, and transnational activities (for example, Huntington 2004; Portes and Rumbaul 2006; Bloemraad 2006; Portes, Escobar, and Walton 2006). The current research adds to this discussion through a case study of selected immigrant organizations from Greater Boston's largest Latino immigrant communities. Through qualitative interviews with leaders of immigrant organizations we found that connections and alliances matter for integration. Immigrant-led organizations are unique because of their leadership and proximity to the community. Even groups focused on cultural, religious, and transnational activities serve as informal mediators in the integration process. They provide practical information, support, and connections to mainstream society. Our findings inform how local governments can leverage the position of immigrant organizations to build social and human capital in marginalized communities. Working with these informal networks allows the government to increase the efficiency and quality of its outreach to immigrants.