IGS looks at how Americans think about immigration

A new study by UC Berkeley political scientist Jack Citrin and two former graduate fellows at the Institute of Governmental Studies concludes that how Americans think about illegal immigration determines what they think about it.

Jack Citrin

Jack Citrin

Many Americans form their views on illegal immigration based on a sweeping judgment on the topic, rather than assessing individual immigrants and what skills they may bring across the border, says the article. The most common categorical response is linked to support for obeying the law, according to the study.

“In effect,” the researchers say, “this type of moral thinking blurs distinctions between individual illegal immigrants and generates a rigid all-or-nothing decision logic that subverts acceptance of precisely the sorts of compromises the last two presidential administrations have attempted to hash out.”

The research about anti-immigration sentiment regarding the 12 million immigrants living in the United States without permission was just published in the journal Public Behavior. 

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