, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 87-96
Date: 18 Nov 2012

Public support for Hispanic deportation in the United States: the effects of ethnic prejudice and perceptions of economic competition in a period of economic distress

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This paper investigates the effect of ethnic prejudice and perceived economic competition on support for deportation and alternative policy options concerning the handling of undocumented immigrants. Using a national survey conducted in early 2009, data are analysed using bivariate and multinomial regression techniques. Ethnic prejudice and perceived economic competition were found to be significantly related to support for deportation in the face of alternative options, controlling for the effects of age, sex, employment status, nativity, race, party identification, and education. Furthermore, majority support for deportation was found among conservatives, moderates, Republicans, and Independents. Even among liberals and Democrats, substantial numbers supported deportation. During the recent economic recession, perceived economic competition and ethnic prejudice were dominant influences on deportation preferences, and deportation appears to have become a mainstream policy option. However, we speculate that deportation preferences are relatively shallow and unstable owing partly to the dependence of immigration public opinion on economic cycles, and, ultimately, the unfeasibility of deportation as a policy option.