Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Second Department


Reader 1

Cameron Shelton

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


The idea to create a new class of place-based visas is gaining traction in policy circles. These visas, known in some instances as “heartland visas” and as part of a class of immigration reform called “place-based immigration” (PBI), are designed to give state and local governments the ability to sponsor immigrants to live and work in their local communities. The proposal has gained traction among a variety of candidates for federal office and local immigration policy stakeholders. The reason for this support is the proposal’s ability to address a grave issue facing numerous communities across the U.S.—and its ability to do so while appealing to the sentiments and preferences of local stakeholders. As communities across the U.S. face population decline and aging, the question of how to maintain the livability and desirability of those communities looms large. Place-based visas are compelling because they can help communities bolster the numerical, social, and educational stock of local communities to solve the various economic and social challenges raised by population decline, like depressed real estate prices, government revenues, and economic activity. A place-based visa policy would also contribute to the decentralization of both immigration flows and the immigration bureaucracy by giving state and local officials the power to bring immigrants to their less-frequently settled communities. This thesis explores why it is that this visa program shows promise, but it leaves questions about specific forms of enforcement and implementation for future studies. Such questions will be important to clarify to protect local communities from a host of social, political, and economic costs.