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Opposition to Pro-Immigrant Public Policy: Symbolic Racism and Group Threat



This study examines the relationship between symbolic racism and native-born citizens’ policy opinions toward legal and undocumented immigration. With data from the 1994 General Social Survey and the NPR/Kaiser Foundation/Kennedy School of Government 2004 Immigration Survey, the results from logit regression models indicate that symbolic racism significantly predicts opposition to legal immigration, immigrant access to federal aid, and standard costs for college, citizenship for U.S.-born children, and work permits for undocumented immigrants. The effects are independent of group threat and other factors. Symbolic racism explained more variation in policy opinions toward government assistance, while group threat explained more variation toward immigration levels and citizenship status. Depending on the issue, native-born citizens likely derive their immigration policy opinions from moral ideologies in addition to intergroup competition.

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