Immigration Attitudes a Mix of Fear, Nativism, and Color-blind Rhetoric

Dr. Cameron Lippard, associate professor of sociology, just published a recent study analyzing respondent views of immigration in the United States. Polls measuring attitudes on immigration suggest that Americans generally agree that immigration is good for the United States. However, these same polls suggest that Americans support strict border enforcement and racial profiling to curtail illegal immigration. These same mixed responses about immigration also characterize southern views, particularly in new immigrant destinations. Drawing on 180 in-depth interviews from southern college students, this article uses color-blind racism and racist nativism theories to examine immigration rhetoric. Results suggest that respondents fear immigrants “taking over,” racializing the immigration debate to only focus on Mexican immigrants. They also conflate their views of blacks and Mexican immigrants, suggesting these two groups are essentially the same. However, they deflect being blatantly racist nativist by camouflaging their comments with color-blind frames. Many note that the mistreatment of immigrants is “fair” in comparison with their immigrant ancestors, and because immigrants are here “illegally.” These findings advance color-blind rhetoric research beyond the black-white dichotomy by focusing on non-white immigrants. It also demonstrates that researchers should consider how at least respondents in new southern immigrant destinations intertwine various color-blind and racist nativist devices to shape immigration attitudes.

This publication was released online first by the Southern Sociological Society flagship journal, Social Currents. To read the research article in full, click on the following link: Playing the 'Immigrant Card.'

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Published: Sep 22, 2015 8:47am