Hometown Associations: An Untapped Resource for Immigrant Integration?
This report takes a look at hometown associations (HTAs)—immigrant organizations based on a common hometown—and their often overlooked function as integration intermediaries in their country of destination. HTAs provide a safe and familiar setting for migrants to gain basic assistance in adjusting to their new communities, and provide members with opportunities ranging from civic and community involvement to political participation and organizational leadership. Authors suggest that the flexible ad hoc nature of HTAs and their unique position at the intersection of policy in countries of origin and destination make such organizations a valuable asset for host governments seeking to achieve greater coherence among different policy arenas involving migrants and advance intergovernmental and international civil-society dialogue on diasporas.
The report describes the current political context, identifies broad trends based on an analysis of Mexican HTAs in the United States, highlights important HTA characteristics and knowledge gaps policymakers should consider, and addresses what policy options should be employed.
The report encourages policymakers to enhance HTAs’ capacity to deliver for communities at home and abroad through limited, well-designed interventions. Suggested policy options include: providing nonprofit leadership and management training for HTA leaders, establishing federations or incentivizing collaboration to give HTAs more leverage in obtaining funding, institutionalizing the role of HTAs as de facto migrant information centers for social service programs, conducting research on the most promising intervention points and opportunities for engagement, and initiating a collaborative data collection process to evaluate HTA program outcomes.