UT Sociologist Looks at Impact of Immigration on Southern States

KNOXVILLE — A new study by a University of Tennessee sociologist is part of an effort to guide “new destination” states as they deal with challenges related to the influx of immigrants to their communities.

Dr. Stephanie Bohon, an associate professor of sociology at UT, authored a study that featured policy response to immigration in Georgia, one of several southeastern states that have had little experience with immigration.

The Century Foundation, a non-profit think tank, commissioned Bohon and four other scholars to write analyses of state policy response in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Carolina.

“The idea behind the project is to see how five states on the front line of new immigration have responded to the challenges and opportunities presented by immigrants,” Bohon said. “The federal government has done very little to address the impact of immigrants on states and localities.”

Bohon has been studying the impact of immigration in the Southeast since 1999. Most of her work focuses on Georgia and its experiences. Since 1990, Georgia has received the second-highest number of immigrants of all southeastern states, after Florida.

Bohon said the report, which documents that states and localities are ill-equipped to resolve problems posed by immigrants, will be made available to policy makers. The study looks at issues related to employment law, law enforcement, emergency assistance, taxation, education and health care.

“One purpose of the project is to provide a guide to other states regarding what does and does not work,” she said.

Bohon, who holds a doctorate in sociology and demography from Pennsylvania State University, joined the UT faculty earlier this year.

Contact: Stephanie Bohon (865-974-7019)