Is immigration a racial issue? Anglo attitudes on immigration policies in a border county.


Objective. This study assesses the association between Anglo aversion to Latinos, physical proximity to Latinos, and contact with ethnic minorities, with expressed preferences for immigration policies. Methods. Data were drawn from a telephone survey of San Diego County, California, residents (N=549 Anglos) using random-digit-dial procedures during 2005–2006 that was conducted by closely supervised professional interviewers. Descriptive reports, tau-b correlations, and multivariate logistic regressions were used for analysis. Results. Aversion to Latinos, as indicated by an adaptation of the Bogardus social distance scale, was related to more restrictionist attitudes about legal and Mexican immigration. Associations increased when respondents were primed to consider Mexican immigration, although aversion to Latinos was not related to attitudes about amnesty for undocumented persons. Contrary to some previous findings, proximity to Latino populations increased opposition to legal immigration and amnesty. Reported minority contact had minimal impact but increased support for amnesty. Conclusions. Attitudes about immigration may be motivated more by racial resentments than other considerations. Future research should identify racial factors that influence Anglo policy positions beyond the classic Anglo/African division that has dominated this research arena.

In Social Science Quarterly