American Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration Policy

American Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration Policy

American Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration Policy

American Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration Policy

Synopsis

Sobczak examines the impact of local structural conditions on Americans attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy. Results indicate social structure strongly predicts views of immigration policy, while shaping views of immigrants indirectly. Contrary to expectations, more favorable views of immigrants and immigration are elicited by residents of locales where structural conditions foster increased levels of intergroup association. Yet, the liberalizing effects of heterogeneous social structures do not extend to locales with precarious economic conditions or heightened levels of intergroup occupational competition. Instead such structural circumstances prompt negative reactions toward immigrants and immigration.

Excerpt

In my study I focus on Americans’ attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy. Immigration has become a crucial national issue in the contemporary era due in large part to the sharp rise in numbers of immigrants entering the United States beginning around 1965, the shift in the national origins of immigrants, and wage stagnation and economic restructuring occurring as immigrants arrive (Bean and Stevens 2003; Goodwin-White 2009). In many ways, the recent American response to immigration can be characterized as negative. Media coverage has reinforced negative stereotypes of today’s immigrants (Santa Ana 1999; Martinez-Brawley and Gualda 2009) and a number of political organizations have placed responsibility for a range of social ills on immigrants and their descendants (Freeman 1997; Muller 1997; Pettigrew 1998; Freeman and Kessler 2008). Moreover, there has been strong populist support for anti-immigrant legislation (Lapinski et al. 1997; National Public Radio 2004; Carroll 2005; Gallup Organization 2007), including attempts to restrict immigration (Federation for American Immigration Reform 2009), limit public benefits for immigrants (e.g. 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act), cut bilingual education programs, and make English the official language of the United States . . .

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