Conflict and Consensus on American Public Opinion on Illegal Immigration

54 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2014 Last revised: 24 Oct 2014

See all articles by Matthew Wright

Matthew Wright

American University; American University - School of Public Affairs

Morris E. Levy

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science

Jack Citrin

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: May 10, 2014

Abstract

The literature on public attitudes toward immigration devotes more attention to mass preferences over the admission and treatment of legal immigrants than to explaining attitudes toward illegal immigration. We theorize both similarity and difference in the nature and underpinnings of public opinion across domains. Two recent surveys, each employing a novel variant of conjoint analysis, help us test these expectations. We underline “categorical” response – that is, the rejection or acceptance of all profiles regardless of traits – on the pathway issue, both extensive in absolute terms (roughly 40% of respondents) and relative to assessments on legal admissions. This tendency also explains the entirety of the favorability gap between legal and illegal profiles assessed. On the other hand, those who do not express categorical responses emphasize the importance of both ethnocultural and human capital-related considerations, and the relative weight of these considerations is stable both regardless of the legality condition and across numerous political predispositions.

Keywords: immigration, public opinion, conjoint, illegal immigration

Suggested Citation

Wright, Matthew and Levy, Morris E. and Citrin, Jack, Conflict and Consensus on American Public Opinion on Illegal Immigration (May 10, 2014). American University School of Public Affairs Research Paper No. 2014-0006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2476001 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2476001

Matthew Wright (Contact Author)

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

American University - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Washington, DC 20016
United States

Morris E. Levy

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science ( email )

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Jack Citrin

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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