Local Government Officials, Immigration Attitudes, and Anti-Discriminatory Norms
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The on-line survey, fielded in July 2014-January 2015, surveyed elected and appointed officials across 502 randomly sampled US towns, which were between 5,000 and 200,000 in population and at least 5 percent foreign-born. The survey generated responses from 598 local government officials across 373 US towns, for an overall response rate of 30 percent. At the end of the survey, respondents viewed a thank you message followed by five standard questions on immigration attitudes. Two-thirds of the sample saw the thank you message accompanied by a photo of a research assistant, with half of these respondents seeing the white research assistant and half seeing a digitally altered version of the research assistant in which she appears non-white. In the sample as a whole, those who saw the “non-white” research assistant were directionally more supportive of immigration, though results were only statistically significant for one of six dependent variables. Viewing the non-white assistant, however, had differential impacts depending on the local government official’s political ideology. Among those who are moderate or liberal, seeing the non-white assistant induced a statistically significant differential increase in support for immigration. Further analysis remains necessary to determine why non-conservative local government officials respond more favorably to questions about immigration in the “presence” of a person of color, whether due to an internalized embrace of diversity or a heightened sensitivity to anti-discriminatory norms.