Organizational Pressures Limiting the Ability of Utah Social Service Agencies to Serve the Unauthorized Immigrant Population

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Grant Holyoak, Utah State University

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Extant research has identified a number of gaps in the social services available to immigrants in the U.S. and, relatedly, the impacts of these gaps on immigrant well-being. Less research has analyzed the factors that impact how social service organizations respond to the needs of immigrants. Understanding the constraints and opportunities such organizations face is key to identifying ways to successfully remedy critical resource gaps. Data for this study were collected through in-depth interviews with leaders from two dozen Utahan agencies, which offer services ranging from educational promotion to religious humanitarianism. Drawing on organizational theory, this research advances the field by identifying the coercive, mimetic, and normative pressures that social service organizations face and how these pressures shape organizations’ responsiveness to the needs of immigrant communities. Cultural, organizational, and legal variables are identified as inhibitors to the ability of these agencies to meet the needs of this population, and recommendations are given regarding the abatement of these pressures. The policy implications of this analysis are applicable on the local, state, and national levels, and prove essential to the continued debates surrounding the service of this marginalized demographic.