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THE UNCERTAIN IMPACT OF ANGLO/LATINO CONTACT ON ANGLOS’ IMMIGRATION POLICY VIEWS: Awareness of Latinos’ Problems Is the Key

  • Marylee C. Taylor (a1), Maria Krysan (a2) and Matthew Hall (a3)
Abstract

This project draws on psychological and sociological social psychology to investigate immigration policy opinions among native-born non-Hispanic Whites. Using data from a suburban Chicago-area county that has seen substantial growth in the Latino immigrant population, we examine Anglos’ opinions on three dimensions of immigration policy: preferred immigration rate, resistance to immigration, and assistance for immigrants. Our central hypothesis is that liberalizing effects of Anglo/Latino interpersonal contact are conditioned on Anglos’ recognition of hardships and barriers faced by Latinos. Five of the six interaction effects we estimated were highly significant: Personal contact with Latinos does promote more positive, progressive immigration policy opinions, but only among some Anglos—those who were acquainted with immigrants who had run afoul of immigration law or believed there is substantial local discrimination against Latinos. The results are reminiscent of James Kluegel’s (1985) analysis of White Americans’ views about affirmative action: “If there isn’t a problem, you don’t need a solution.” Affirmation of local anti-Latino discrimination was the stronger moderator of contact effects and also showed main effects on immigration policy opinion stronger than the effects of interpersonal contact. Denial of anti-Latino discrimination may be a means used by Anglos to defend their group position.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr. Marylee C. Taylor, Department of Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University, Room 211 Oswald Tower, University Park, PA 16802. E-mail: mct@psu.edu.
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