26 Pages

Crossing the Mason Dixon versus the Rio Grande: Evaluating the Effect of Race on Attitudes toward Immigration Policy

WithCarley M. Shinault, Richard A. Seltzer

This research evaluates changes in attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy over five decades. Utilizing data from Gallup and CBS opinion polls between 1964 and 2012, this study explores mass opinion regarding appropriate levels of immigration, whether immigrants create competition over employment opportunities, granting of amnesty, and the likelihood of immigrants becoming productive citizens and contributing to the American economy. With particular focus on trends among African-American respondents, it is among the first empirical studies to conduct a longitudinal exploration of African-American attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy. In contrast to literature that emphasizes competition and conflict between Blacks and Latinos, our results indicate that Blacks were more likely than Whites to express proimmigrant sentiments. Socioeconomic variables had a slightly greater effect among Whites than Blacks. In line with previous studies, respondents with less education and/or lower income were more likely to oppose the rights of immigrants. Some of these differences seem to have widened in recent years.