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