The Role of Contact and Values in Public Attitudes Toward Unauthorized Immigrants

Diana M. Orcés & Walter Ewing
Date of Publication: 
April, 2019
Source Organization: 
American Immigration Council

Most assessments of public opinion towards immigration are based on polling data. This study argues that this approach prevents a thorough understanding of respondents’ sentiments towards unauthorized immigrants and how their views are formed. To address this shortcoming, the American Immigration Council paired its web-based, voluntary survey of 1,280 native-born U.S. citizens with an analysis of background information for these individuals, including personal values, political ideologies, socio-demographic variables, and opinions on social issues. Authors Diana Orcés and Walter Ewing sought to discover if a respondent’s personal values and prior contact with immigrants correlate with their views on unauthorized immigrants. One key finding was that positive, friendly contact with immigrants is associated with pro-immigration sentiments. Another important finding was that respondents who value empathy tend to have pro-immigrant sentiments whereas those who place a high value on authority have less favorable attitudes. These findings, the authors suggest, could help with the development of more effective strategies to improve the reception of immigrants in local communities. (Monica Leon for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute) 

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Orcés, D. M. & Ewing, W. (2019). The Role of Contact and Values in Public Attitudes Toward Unauthorized Immigrants. American Immigration Council. Retrieved from