Cornelius - Ambivalent Reception

Cornelius - Ambivalent Reception - In Latinos: Remaking...

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In Latinos: Remaking America. 2002. EDITED BY Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco and Mariela M. Páez. Berkeley Los Angeles London : UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS 8. Ambivalent Reception Mass Public Responses to the "New" Latino Immigration to the United States Wayne A. Cornelius This chapter analyzes the sources of public resistance to Latino immigration in the United States in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It focuses on the complex interplay between economic and ethno-cultural factors in determining the attitudes of the general public toward immigrants and immigration policy preferences. A large body of evidence suggests that most Mexican and other post-1970 Latino immigrants to the United States have been fully incorporated into the U.S. economy, mostly filling low-wage, low-skill jobs that native-born Americans typically avoid. To many native-born residents, however, the economic benefits of a large, flexible, relatively low-cost supply of immigrant labor are offset by the noneconomic costs of a rapidly expanding and increasingly settled immigrant presence. Thus, despite an increasingly tight domestic labor market in the United States, public concern 1
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about "excessive" Latino immigration has persisted. A broadly based, anti-immigrant backlash has not yet developed because of the low salience of immigration as a policy issue among the general public, a sharp decline in immigrant bashing by politicians (in recent years, both the Republican and Democratic parties have actively courted the immigrant vote and avoided anti- immigration rhetoric) and (until recently) the robustness of the national economy. Furthermore, a growing number of U.S. labor unions have recognized that they have more to gain by organizing immigrants—even the undocumented—in workplaces where they now predominate in the labor force than by opposing their employment. [ 1 ] I argue that an ethno-cultural objection to the most recent wave of Latino immigration underlies persistent U.S. public concern about immigration levels, regardless of the state of the macroeconomy. Native-born residents of states and local communities affected by heavy immigration ― 166 ― are increasingly concerned about the potential of migrants from Latin American and the Caribbean to shift the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic balance within their communities. Just as it has been since the mid-eighteenth century, ethnicity remains a powerful determinant of the U.S. public's attitudes toward immigration and its consequences, as well as of their voting behavior on immigration-related issues. In the public-policy arena, the ambivalence of public opinion on this issue—recognition of the economic utility of Latino immigrants coupled with anxiety about their sociocultural impact— translates into a reluctance among legislators to raise permanent legal immigration ceilings or to approve a general amnesty for undocumented immigrants (measures that would largely benefit low-skilled Latino immigrants with family ties to the United States), even as they open the door
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2010 for the course SOCL 1A taught by Professor Blair-loy during the Fall '08 term at UCSD.

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Cornelius - Ambivalent Reception - In Latinos: Remaking...

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