Land of Opportunity

Kevin Lewis

May 23, 2022

Boundaries of Solidarity: Immigrants, Economic Contributions, and Welfare Attitudes
Gabriele Magni
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming 

In the politics of welfare, citizens often prioritize natives over immigrants. What conditions reduce welfare discrimination against immigrants? Original survey experiments from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy reveal that the divide between natives and immigrants remains the fundamental cleavage in the politics of welfare. All immigrants face welfare penalties, including immigrants from Western countries. Even young, progressive, highly educated, and economically secure native citizens strongly penalize immigrants. Although immigrants never fully overcome identity barriers, the welfare support gap between natives and immigrants decreases when immigrants have a long work history. A history of employment provides evidence of reciprocity through past contributions and signals immigrants’ commitment to the community. Other immigrants’ characteristics, such as higher education and proactive work attitude, fail to decrease the gap. This article contributes to the study of solidarity in diverse societies and the impact of immigration on the welfare state. 

Chasing Respectability: Pro-Immigrant Organizations and the Reinforcement of Immigrant Racialization
Hana Brown & Jennifer Jones
American Behavioral Scientist, forthcoming

In this article, we investigate the role that pro-immigrant organizations play in immigrant racialization. Drawing on a critical case study from the longest standing immigrant rights organization in North Carolina, we demonstrate how immigrant rights organizations can racialize new Latinx arrivals even as they advocate for them. We interrogate the organization’s multi-year, state-wide campaign to counteract mounting public characterizations of Latinx immigrants as drunk drivers. Analyzing a critical juncture in this campaign, we demonstrate how El Pueblo, in their effort to contest the mainstream racialization of Latinxs, unintentionally doubled down on that same racialization, buying into respectability politics and reinforcing derogatory stereotypes of Latinxs. We outline three central maneuvers that grounded this particular respectability politics campaign and demonstrate the utility of respectability politics as a framework for understanding organizational racialization processes. These findings suggest the need to shift focus toward community organizations as key sites of immigrant racialization and highlight the need for inquiry into the racialized assumptions of pro-immigrant forces. 

Flowing Across with Demonic Hate: Belief in Supernatural Evil and Support for Stricter Immigration Policy
Brandon Martinez, Joshua Tom & Joseph Baker
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, forthcoming

Prior research has found that different aspects of religion (such as service attendance and fundamentalism) have significant and varying effects on public attitudes about immigration. We identify an important but understudied aspect of how religion connects to immigration attitudes: beliefs about the reality of supernatural evil (e.g., Satan, hell, and demons). Using a national sample of Americans, we find that greater belief in supernatural evil is a strong and consistent predictor of more restrictive views of immigration, even after controlling for other dimensions of religiosity, sociodemographics, and political characteristics. Overall, beliefs about religious evil are the aspect of religion with the strongest connection to views of immigration. Consequently, consideration of religious evil is integral to understanding how religion influences public attitudes about immigration. 

Can conservatives who (de)humanize immigrants the most be able to support them? The power of imagined positive contact
Islam Borinca, Pinar Çelik & Martin Storme
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, May 2022, Pages 363-375

Despite studies examining political ideology, group dehumanization, and intergroup contact as predictors of intergroup support and affect, research on their interplay in shaping such outcomes has been limited. In fact, considering the possibility that conservatives might view immigrants in various ways (as more or less human) is important to understand the impact of interventions (positive imagined contact) on intergroup relations. The results of two experiments (N = 671) with U.S. citizens in relation to two outgroups — Muslim immigrants in Experiment 1 and Mexican immigrants in Experiment 2 — consistently showed that imagined positive contact condition (vs. control/no contact condition) influenced intergroup support (i.e., in both experiments) and positive emotions (i.e., in Experiment 2) more for individuals who endorsed a conservative ideology and scored high for dehumanizing immigrants. Participants’ willingness to attribute positive emotions to outgroup members ultimately explained the observed effects. In this research, we discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings for intergroup relations and outgroup dehumanization. 

Status-based coalitions: Hispanic growth affects Whites’ perceptions of political support from Asian Americans
Maureen Craig & Michelle Lee
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, April 2022, Pages 661-681

Three experiments test whether considering a stereotypically lower status group’s social gains leads White Americans to expect political solidarity among stereotypically higher status groups. Information about Hispanic population growth (vs. current demographics) led White Americans to expect relative losses to both White and Asian Americans’ statuses (Study 1). Making growing Hispanic political power (vs. control information) salient led Whites to report that Asian Americans and White Americans would support one another’s policy positions more (Studies 2 and 3). Importantly, presenting information that Asian Americans oppose (vs. support) the racial status quo reduced Whites’ perceptions of a White–Asian status-based coalition in response to growing Hispanic power (Study 3), suggesting that disrupting beliefs that Asian Americans will maintain the racial hierarchy reduces expectations of a White–Asian coalition in response to Hispanic growth. This work highlights the utility of moving beyond dyadic conceptualizations of intergroup relations to understand how one group’s gains can shift coalitional expectations in diverse social hierarchies. 

“All Are Deserving”: Racialized Conditions of Immigrant Deservingness in a Catholic Worker Movement-Inspired Non-Governmental Organization
Anthony Jimenez
American Behavioral Scientist, forthcoming

Although deservingness considerations are commonly antithetical to the aims of pro-immigrant spaces like Justicia y Paz (JyP), a volunteer-run, Catholic Worker Movement-inspired non-governmental organization in Houston, Texas, they nevertheless materialize. This study explores how and why this happens. Drawing on an inductive analysis of 11 months of ethnographic observation and 36 in-depth interviews with volunteers and migrants at JyP, I argue that in “all are deserving” contexts, pro-immigrant advocates can engage in racialization and perpetuate white supremacy. I find that not all are treated as deserving — that deservingness is conditional on migrants submitting to two racially subordinate positions: (1) workers whose labor benefits the material interests of the white suburban elite and (2) indigent subjects whose impoverishment serves as the basis of spiritual salvation for a predominately white base of volunteers aiming to “serve the poor.” This research underscores the limitations of the Catholic Worker Movement-inspired “all are deserving” framework and affords similar pro-immigrant organizations practical insight toward ways to manifest immigrant justice. 

Immigrant Organizations and Neighborhood Crime
Young-An Kim, John Hipp & Charis Kubrin
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

We examine the impact of immigrant-serving organizations on neighborhood crime in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, while accounting for other community correlates of crime as well as potential endogeneity. We estimate longitudinal negative binomial regression models that test for the main, mediating, and moderating effects of immigrant-serving organizations. We found that immigrant-serving organizations generally have crime-reducing effects for all types of crime. We also find that high immigrant concentration is associated with lower levels of crime in general, and this effect is moderated by the number of organizations, which underlines the importance of accounting for these organizations when studying the nexus of immigrant concentration and neighborhood crime. 

Immigration and School Threat?: Exploring the Significance of the Border
Janice Iwama et al.
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Using Generalized Linear Modeling (GLM) with a logistic link function, we examine the relationship between immigration and school violence by probing variation in school punishment and juvenile justice referrals across Texas schools given their proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border.

First, we find that Texas schools located near the U.S.-Mexico border have lower juvenile justice and school discipline rates net other variables in comparison to Texas schools away from the border. Second, we observe a negative relationship between a rise in the immigrant student population and punishment in Texas schools far from the U.S.-Mexico border and no relationship in Texas schools near the U.S.-Mexico border net of other factors. 

Voters in a Foreign Land: Alien Suffrage in the United States, 1704–1926
Alan Kennedy
Journal of Policy History, April 2022, Pages 245-275

As early as 1704, noncitizen immigrants were legally allowed to vote in what would become the United States. By the end of the eighteenth century, noncitizens could legally vote in most states. State lawmakers offered the franchise as an incentive for white, male, Europeans of working age to migrate. However, rising immigration and nativism led states to reconsider alien suffrage, as noncitizen voting was known, and alien suffrage nearly disappeared by the 1840s. Revived by territorial expansion, demands for cheap labor, urbanization, racism, and sexism, alien suffrage expanded in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, peaking a century after the nation’s founding. However, resurgent nativism, wartime xenophobia, and corruption concerns pushed lawmakers to curtail noncitizen voting, and citizenship became a voting prerequisite in every state by 1926.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.