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Objective

Do the public declarations of religious leaders concerning immigration influence American public opinion on immigration reform?

Methods

In answering this question, we use the 2004 National Politics Study and employ ordered logistic regression techniques to test hypotheses derived from elite opinion theory.

Results

We find that exposure to elite messages from religious leaders on immigration leads respondents to more strongly support increasing immigration to the United States, allowing immigrants to serve in the military, and allowing immigrants who serve in the military to gain citizenship.

Conclusion

Taken together, these results provide evidence that members of America's largest religious denominations are communicating support for liberal immigration reforms to their parishioners and, more importantly, that these signals subsequently influence the preferences of the parishioners exposed to these messages.