What Triggers Public Opposition to Immigration? Anxiety, Groups Cues, and Immigration Threat

Brader, T., Valentino, N.A. & Suhay, E. 2008. American Journal of Political Science

We examine whether and how elite discourse shapes mass opinion and action on immigration policy. One popular but untested suspicion is that reactions to news about the costs of immigration depend upon who the immigrants are. We confirm this suspicion in a nationally representative experiment: news about the costs of immigration boosts white opposition far more when Latino immigrants, rather than European immigrants, are featured. We find these group cues influence opinion and political action by triggering emotions—in particular, anxiety—not simply by changing beliefs about the severity of the immigration problem.