Walls, Cages, and Family Separation: Race and Immigration Policy in the Trump Era with Chris Zepeda-Millán (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

U.S. immigration policy has deeply racist roots. From his rhetoric to his policies, President Donald Trump has continued this tradition, most notoriously through his border wall, migrant family separation, and child detention measures. But who exactly supports these practices and what factors drive their opinions? Our research reveals that racial attitudes are fundamental to understanding who backs the president’s most punitive immigration policies. We find that whites who feel culturally threatened by Latinos, who harbor racially resentful sentiments, and who fear a future in which the United States will be a majority-minority country are among the most likely to support Trump’s actions on immigration. We argue that while the president’s policies are unpopular with the majority of Americans, he is likely betting his 2020 reelection bid on his ability to politically mobilize the most racially conservative segment of whites who back his most draconian immigration enforcement measures.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

The Impacts of Exclusion and Disproportionate Service on Women and Faculty of Color in Political Science with Evelyn M. Simien (PS: Political Science & Politics, Forthcoming)

Disproportionate Service: Considering the Impacts of George Floyd’s Death and the Coronavirus Pandemic for Women Academics and Faculty of Color with Evelyn M. Simien (PS: Political Science & Politics, 2022)

This article focuses on disproportionate service burdens faced by women academics and faculty of color in higher education created by COVID-19 and the massive, multilocation street protests that followed George Floyd’s death. Our work aims to inform provosts, deans, directors, and other institutional actors in academia who recognize the need for documenting structural inequities and investing in high-impact, long-term solutions. Recommendations are offered to meet challenges, given the need to raise colleague awareness of disproportionate service burdens.

An Experimental Approach to Examining Public Attitudes Towards the DREAM Act with Geoff Wallace ( International Migration Review, 2020)

This article assesses how different notions of citizenship shape mass attitudes toward immigration reform. We examine the underpinnings of the military service and college education provisions that were at the center of the 2010 DREAM Act, which sought to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth in the United States. Employing a survey experiment on a nationally representative US sample, we unpack the extent to which the mass public is willing to support immigration reform based on criteria tied to undocumented immigrants’ educational attainment or enlistment in the armed forces. While education has little effect on its own, military service significantly increases public support for a pathway to citizenship. The positive effect of military service endures when it is paired with less popular provisions, suggesting a military criterion can serve as a basis of support for broader immigration legislation. Moreover, the effects are strongest for those groups who are traditionally viewed as being most opposed to immigration reforms that expand access to citizenship. The results of this study have implications for public attitudes toward immigration, the persistence of the citizen-soldier ideal, and the importance of framing in the policy-making process.

Do Latinos Still Support Immigrant Rights Activism? Examining Latino Attitudes a Decade After the 2006 Protests with Chris Zepeda-Millán ( Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2020)

The historic and primarily Latino 2006 immigrant rights protest wave occurred in response to proposed federal anti-immigrant legislation (H.R. 4437). Research on the unprecedented series of demonstrations suggests that the draconian and racialized nature of the bill helps explain why it incited large-scale collective action. Utilizing a new survey with a considerable oversample of Latino respondents, the 2016 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey (CMPS), this paper investigates contemporary Latino support for immigrant rights activism. We examine several factors that influence support such as linked fate, knowing undocumented people, perceptions of anti-immigrant sentiments, concerns about immigration enforcement policies, political party identification, and past participation in protests. The results of our analysis indicate that some of the same factors that influenced Latino engagement in the 2006 mobilizations, such as identity, threat, concerns over enforcement, and racialization, continue to impact Latino support for contentious politics on behalf of the foreign-born. We also find evidence that political party, past protest activity, and the composition of one’s social network also play a significant role in explaining levels of support for activism. Our results have important implications for understanding how anti-immigrant policies and racialized nativism influence Latino support for contentious politics.

Sanctuary Cities: Public Attitudes towards Enforcement Collaboration between Local Police and Federal Immigration Authorities with Jason Casellas ( Urban Affairs Review, 2019)

Local law enforcement has dramatically increased its cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, while other localities refuse to cooperate. Although scholars have examined how Sanctuary cities may differ from other places in terms of crime rates, attitudes towards local law enforcement’s collaboration with federal immigration authorities remains understudied. We utilize original data from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey (CCES) to study attitudes towards local/federal collaboration. Our results demonstrate that those who most recognize the racial advantage of whites are significantly less likely to support collaboration between local police and federal authorities. Confirming prior work, our results also support the critical role of partisanship, nativity, demographics, and education in explaining attitudes towards sanctuary policies. Our findings have important implications for understanding attitudes towards immigration enforcement and policies.

How Race, Ethnicity, and Party Shape Perceptions of Commonality on Public Policy and Legislative District Preferences with Jason Casellas and Daniel Gillion (Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, 2019)

This paper utilizes original survey data to examine whether individuals believe they share views on public policy with members of their own racial or ethnic group and whether they desire to live in legislative districts with people from their own racial or ethnic group. We find strong evidence that Latino and African-American respondents do share a sense of share policy preferences. We also find evidence that white Republicans are also very likely to view themselves as having shared policy preferences. Our results also indicate that those who have a strong sense of shared policy preferences with their racial group are also more likely to want to live in legislative districts with others from their racial or ethnic group. This paper affords a deeper understanding of the extent to which voters express commonality with their racial and ethnic minority group on matters related to public policy.

The Impact of Large Scale Collective Action on Latino Perceptions of Commonality and Competition with African-Americans with Michael Jones-Correa and Chris Zepeda - Millán (Social Science Quarterly, 2016)

Utilizing geocoded LNS data combined with an expanded protest event dataset to estimate the average effect of protests on Latinos’ perceptions of commonality and competition with African-Americans, we find respondents’ proximity to greater numbers of marches had a positive impact on their feelings of commonality with African- Americans. The results also show that proximity to more protests did not lead to an increase in feelings of competition except in the case of electoral representation. This paper demonstrates that placing respondents in their spatial and temporal contexts matters in assessing political attitudes and the effects of social movements.

The Role of Race, Ethnicity, and Partisanship on Attitudes about Descriptive Representation with Jason Casellas (American Politics Research, Jan 2015)

Using original survey data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey (CCES) in 2012 , we examine variation in racial and ethnic group and partisan attitudes towards legislators and representation. We find Latinos and African-Americans place a high importance on descriptive representation and the desire for more of it. Interestingly, White Republican respondents also feel strongly about the need for more descriptive representation. However, Latino Republican respondents place less importance on descriptive representation overall than Latino non-Republican respondents.

Spatial and Temporal Proximity: The Effects of Protests on Latino Political Attitudes with Chris Zepeda- Millán and Michael Jones-Correa (American Journal of Political Science, 2014)

This paper utilizes data from the Latino National Survey (2006) to analyze temporal and spatial variation in the effects of the immigrant rights marches in 2006 on Latino attitudes towards trust in government and self-efficacy. Using a unique protest data, we examine the effects of proximity and scale by mapping respondents’ specific geographic location against the location of the marches as well as size of the protests using GIS. We find that local proximity to marches has a positive impact on feelings of efficacy, whereas large scale protests led to lower feelings of efficacy. The results shed light on the role localized political events can play in shaping feelings towards government.

Representing Latinos: Examining Descriptive and Substantive Representation in Congress (Political Research Quarterly, 2014)

This paper examines the 111th Congress to assess differences between Latino and non-Latino representatives. I find that Latino members are not substantively different from non-Latino Democrats on roll call votes. However, they are considerably more active in non-roll call behavior, such as bill co-sponsorship . Moreover, I argue that Latino representatives are not simply more active than Democrats. Rather, they are selectively more active in high salience issue areas to the Latino community. Finally, non-Latino representatives with sizeable Latino constituencies do not act to serve Latino interests to the same extent as Latino legislators.

Papers Please: An Analysis of State Level Anti-Immigrant legislation in the Wake of Arizona’s SB 1070 (Political Science Quarterly, July 2014)

Arizona passed controversial immigration legislation, S.B. 170 in 2010 that targets undocumented immigration. Since then, a number of additional states are in the process of passing similar bills. Critics of this legislation charge it is motivated by anti-immigrant, racist, and nativist attitudes. Defendants claim it is rooted in protecting the well being of the state, particularly in light of the failure of the federal government to pass immigration reform. This paper examines the introduction of immigrant legislation at the state level that are SB 1070 copycats.The role of party control of the legislature, economic concerns, assimilation, and demographic changes are central to explaining the propensity of bill introduction. The findings have implications for both theoretical and policy debates over the role and consequences of state actions towards immigration.

The Role of Identity and Discrimination in Support for Latino Descriptive Representation (Social Science Quarterly, June 2014)

Utilizing data from the Latino National Survey (2006), I find that a greater sense of attachment to Latino identity and group consciousness results in a higher desire for Latino representatives. Similarly, Latinos who believed Latinos suffered from group discrimination were in greater support of Latino candidates. The findings suggest that identity and discrimination operate to increase support for Latino descriptive representation.

Racialization in Times of Contention: How Social Movements Influence Latino Racial Identity with Chris Zepeda- Millán (Politics, Groups, and Identities, 2013)

This paper examines the effects of the 2006 immigrant rights protests on the strength of Latino racial identity. Utilizing the 2006 Latino National Survey and an original protest event dataset, we test whether Latino perceptions of racialization changed during the series of demonstrations. We treat the marches temporally as a natural experiment to explore changes in Latino attitudes regarding their racial identities before, during, and after the protests. We find that both during and after the marches Latinos possessed a greater sense of racialization than before the marches. Moreover, the effect of the demonstrations was not short-lived and did not dissipate immediately after the end of the protest cycle. Rather, the effect grew stronger as the number of days after the last protest occurred increased. These findings have important implications for our understanding of the impacts social movements can have on the strength of collective identities.

It’s Complicated: Latinos, President Obama, and the 2012 Election (Social Science Quarterly , 2012)

This paper examines Latino support past, present, and future for President Obama and his policies, and the role of the Latino vote in the 2012 Election.Despite disappointment and anger over immigration policy by President Obama, Latinos still indicate high levels of support and willingness to vote for him in the 2012 Election. Obama has demonstrated his commitment to issues salient to the Latino community in addition to appointing a large number of Latinos to top ranking government positions. In the 2012 election, Latinos could play a significant role in the presidential race but also in congressional races if they turnout in high numbers in competitive places to ensure their numbers result in influence.