Latino Immigrants Across The U.S. Report Similar Levels Of U.S
Former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio recently announced his bid for the Arizona Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jeff Flake. To say that Arpaio is a controversial figure is putting it mildly: He was sued by the Department of Justice for violating Latinos’ civil rights and found in contempt of court for illegally detaining unauthorized immigrants, among other things. And Arpaio isn’t the only staunchly anti-immigration politician in Arizona.
The state is also home to SB 1070, a law that requires law-enforcement agents to check the immigration status of anyone they stop who they suspect of being in the country without documentation.1 Arizona’s turn against unauthorized immigration provoked a series of protests and inspired the bilingual song “Todos Somos Arizona” (“We Are All Arizona”).
Given that context, you might expect immigrants to view Arizona as among the places where they’d be most likely to experience discrimination. But they don’t. For the years before 2010, there was surprisingly little variation in immigrants’ perceptions of discrimination across states. And to the extent that states do vary, immigrants in Arizona reported relatively low levels of discrimination.
Even more recently, there is not much evidence that Latinos, both immigrant and native-born, see much difference in levels of discrimination across states. In that respect, immigrants may be similar to their native-born neighbors: They may react more to events on the national stage — say, the fight over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy — than to what’s happening closer to home.
With a team of political scientists and social psychologists — Jonathan Mummolo, Victoria Esses, Cheryl Kaiser, Monica McDermott and Helen Marrow — I investigated how immigrants’ perceptions of discrimination vary across states and localities in a 2016 article in Politics, Groups and Identities.2 We expected that immigrants’ perceptions of discrimination would vary significantly depending on where those immigrants had settled.