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Threat Perception and Attitudes Toward Documented and Undocumented Immigrants in the United States: Framing the Debate and Conflict Resolution

By Knud S. Larsen, Krum Krumov, Hao Van Le and Reidar Ommundsen


The article summarizes the literature on perceived threat from legal and illegal immigration in the USA showing an increasing gap between immigration policies and opinions of the native populations. The threat to cultural and national identity is discussed, and a labor competition model advanced. Economic frustration plays a role in the hardening of attitudes. The isolation of immigrants in ghettos bodes ill for the future of integration of immigrants into society. The reemergence of nationalistic movements have coincided with large-scale immigration and poses a perceived threat to the native population from cultural heterogeneity. Individual attitudinal differences derive from relative rightwing authoritarianism and the desire for social dominance. Conflict resolution is dependent on the frames used of the immigrant as a lawbreaker or victim of exploitation. Solutions from the political right emphasize control and economic benefits of cheap labor. Solutions from the left promote economic development in source countries, and the human rights of economic and political refugees

Topics: Immigration, threat, attitudes, ideology, framing
Year: 2013
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