Immigration Threat Amplifiers and Whites’ Immigration Attitudes in the Age of Trump




Immigration Attitudes, Immigration Policies, United States, Group Threat Theory


The US public’s immigration attitudes have become more favourable in recent years, yet the Trump administration (2017-2021) was the most restrictionist on immigration of any modern US presidency. What key sociopolitical factors were associated with holding more exclusionary immigration attitudes and policy preferences among US whites, the ethnoracial group most likely to support Trump, at the beginning of his administration? Analyses of two waves of nationally representative US panel survey data for whites demonstrate that voting for Trump, consuming conservative news, being evangelical, and having a stronger white racial identity were linked with more exclusionary abstract immigration attitudes and/or support for one more Trump-era policies: the US-Mexico wall, the Travel Ban targeting majority-Muslim countries, and deportations of unauthorised immigrants. Together, our results emphasise the value of attending to multiple aspects of the national sociopolitical context, considering diverse potential sources that amplify immigration threat, and jointly examining abstract immigration attitudes and specific policy preferences of varying salience.


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Author Biographies

Eileen Díaz McConnell, Arizona State University

Eileen Díaz McConnell is President's Professor in the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University.  Her recent scholarship focuses on the implications of U.S. immigration policy for the well-being of Mexican and Central American immigrants and their families and the intersection of U.S. population  ethnoracial dynamics, media representations of communities of color, and public opinion. 

Lisa M. Martinez, University of Denver

Lisa M. Martinez is Professor of Sociology at the University of Denver. Her areas of expertise include immigration, racial/ethnic politics, Latina/o/x sociology, and social inequality. She is currently working on a book manuscript on the educational, occupational, and political trajectories of undocumented youth and young adults who received relief through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.




How to Cite

Díaz McConnell, E., & Martinez, L. M. (2022). Immigration Threat Amplifiers and Whites’ Immigration Attitudes in the Age of Trump. Migration Letters, 19(3), 315–330.