Acculturating Contexts and Anglo Opposition to Immigration in the United States

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Authors Benjamin J. Newman
Journal/Conference Name AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
Paper Category
Paper Abstract This article explores the impact of novel change in the ethnic composition of Americans’ local context on their attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy preferences. Adapting the “defended-neighborhoods hypothesis” regarding residential integration and black-white interracial relations to the context of immigration and intercultural relations, this article advances the acculturating-contexts hypothesis. This hypothesis argues that a large influx of an immigrant group will activate threat among white citizens when it occurs in local areas where the immigrant group had largely been absent. This theoretical argument is explored within the context of Hispanic immigration and tested using national survey and census data. This article demonstrates that over-time growth in local Hispanic populations triggers threat and opposition to immigration among whites residing in contexts with few initial Hispanics but reduces threat and opposition to immigration among whites residing in contexts with large preexisting Hispanic populations. C onflict over immigration and vocal attempts by national political leaders to “reform” or “overhaul” federal immigration laws come in and out of the national political scene and the public mind nearly every few years in the United States. The recurrence and intensification of political conflict over immigration in the United States is undoubtedly tied to ongoing and accelerating immigration-driven demographic changes in the nation. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that the nation’s foreign-born population is nearing 37 million, or 12% of the total population. The Hispanic population,whichisthelargestandarguablymostsalient immigrant group in the United States, grew 46% from 2000 to 2010 and accounted for nearly 56% of the nation’s total population growth over this period. In addition, the nation’s unauthorized immigrant population has also steadily risen over the past decade, growing from 8.4 million in 2000 up to 11.2 million in 2010. 1 At the state level, state immigrant populations grew on average by 150% between 1990 and 2006. 2 In short, few
Date of publication 2013
Code Programming Language R
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