Out of Context: The Unexpected Absence of Spatial Variation in U.S. Immigrants’ Perceptions of Discrimination
Immigrants’ perceptions of discrimination (PD) correlate strongly with various political outcomes, including group consciousness and partisan identity. Here, we examine the hypothesis that immigrants’ PD vary across US localities, as threatened responses by native-born residents may increase perceived discrimination among neighboring immigrants. We also consider the alternative hypothesis that barriers to the expression and detection of discrimination decouple native-born attitudes from immigrants’ perceptions about their treatment. We test these claims by analyzing three national surveys of almost 11,000 first-generation Latino, Asian, and Muslim immigrants. The results indicate that immigrants’ PD hardly vary across localities. While anti-immigrant attitudes are known to be geographically clustered, immigrants’ PD prove not to be. This mismatch helps us narrow the potential causes of perceived discrimination, and it suggests the value of further research into perceived discrimination’s consequences for immigrants’ social and political incorporation.
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