Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Fernando Riosmena

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Brown

Third Advisor

Dr. Kristie Soares

Abstract

This study documents the construction of opinions white “Americans” make about Latinx immigrants in the current political climate. Even though participants had variant political opinions and resided in two different cities, the central part of this project focuses on the general factors that influence white “American” opinions. This research builds upon the framework of Leo Chavez’s work, The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation. His research provided a basis for understanding US immigration history, the prevalence of anti-immigrant rhetoric against Latinx migrants, the social construction of “illegality,” the pervasiveness of media and the creation of a national identity. This thesis used a phenomenological research design for analysis, to bridge the gap between the literature and the experiences and perceptions white “Americans” currently have about Latinx immigration. Semistructured interviews provided a basis for understanding the dynamics of immigration opinions and the construction of a national identity. The findings state that the social construction of “illegality,” politicized media consumption, and the nativist protection of the “American” identity all contribute to white “American” perceptions on immigrants of Latinx heritage.

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