Miguel the Criminal, Maria the Refugee: How an Immigrant’s Gender and Reasons for Migrating Affect Public Opinion on Immigration

March 2022

Given immigration’s continued salience in the political landscape, it is paramount that we understand how immigration is perceived and how its features and contexts change how people view politics and immigrants themselves. This study will investigate the effect current demographic changes may have on American public opinion by looking at how an immigrant’s gender and reason for migrating affect how they are perceived, focusing specifically on economic and cultural threat. Regression analysis reveals that the gender and reason for migration of the immigrant does not have an effect on the level of threat expressed; however, political ideology, feminist identification, and education of the respondent all emerged as predictors of threat expression. This knowledge can be applied to policy campaign communications for the purpose of targeting specific groups of constituents and can give lawmakers a sense of how people feel and potential underlying causes for why they feel that way.