American attitudes on immigration are not solely rooted on the longstanding ideal of the US as the land of opportunity. They are also in large part based on everyday interactions with today’s immigrants. And research suggests that when Americans live with immigrants, they warm up to them.“The immigrants’ experience gets woven into the lives of the entire region,” says Stanford professor Tomás Jiménez.
A recent study he co-authored gives an idea to what extent. It sought to determine the impact of local policies designed to welcome immigrants—or repel them—on the broader community. Jiménez and his colleagues asked white and Latino residents in New Mexico and Arizona to randomly consider two sets of policies, one welcoming to immigrants, the other hostile. They then tallied how the two sets of policies made participants feel—angry, happy, or sad—and whether they left them feeling at home in their state or wanting to move elsewhere.