Fear of immigrants

Tom Edsall writes about how even apparently liberal communities, such as in the Boston suburbs, can react negatively to immigrants.

He cites a study which tested how native-born Americans respond to slight but noticeable increases in immigrants. The study placed teams of two Spanish speakers into Boston area commuter train stations, “stimulating the conditions of demographic change.” The researchers then interviewed Americans (by voluntary online surveys) who were regularly taking these trains. The researchers compared results with a control group of stations where they had not placed the Spanish speaking teams. They found “a significant shift towards exclusionary” attitudes among the Americans. The affected respondents “were far more likely to advocate a reduction in immigration from Mexico and were far less likely to indicate that illegal immigrants should be allowed to remain in this country.” The rightward shift of attitudes was restricted to immigrants – their other political attitudes did not change.

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