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We conclude by arguing that White animus toward Latinos can no longer be ignored. The policy implications violent the rights of both Latinos as well as undermine the very foundation of democratic government. The future of Latinos living in the United States is largely dependent on how citizens and political institutions deal with this widespread and influential animus toward Latinos. We suggest that that this animus will most likely be a persistent presence in US politics, but can be muted when policy agendas shift and the electoral benefits of campaigning toward those who harbor this animus subside.
Measuring racial animus is quite difficult in an era where explicit racism is still deemed socially unacceptable. This chapter shows that existing measures of racism toward Latinos fail to capture the full extent of animosity toward the group and limits our understanding of how White animus toward Latinos shapes American politics. It provides a wide range of both focus group and survey data to document how White’s commonly express animus about Latinos in everyday discourse. Evidence is provided that shows that this form of animus represents a coherent belief system that is distinct from other beliefs such as political ideology, a preference for Anglo-American culture, ethnocentrism, and old-fashioned racial stereotypes. The connection between this belief system and concerns about race is then established.
Immigration has become the most obvious point of contention between Whites and Latinos. Despite claims that anti-immigration sentiment is divorced of racism, this chapter demonstrates a sizable and stable relationship between White animus toward Latinos and public support for immigration policies ranging from a pathway to citizenship to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to building a wall. Even Whites who are open to the idea of free migration for US citizens oppose the policy when applied to citizens of Latino countries as a result of this belief system that Latinos fail to assimilate and adhere to Anglo-American norms.
Starting as early as the Spanish colonial caste system, the ancestors of modern Latinos faced discrimination that led Whites to view them as a non-White racial group. The discrimination Latinos faced resulting from the caste system limited their social mobility, helping create a belief that Latinos were incapable of assimilating into colonial society. Other types of formal and informal forms of discrimination against Latinos (e.g., the California Land Act, Operation Wetback, the Zoot Suit riots) had a similar effect, reinforcing beliefs about the inability of Latinos to assimilate as well as creating an impression that Latinos fail to adhere to Anglo-American norms. This chapter traces various historical institutions that have helped shape how White's perceive Latino identity and ultimately shape the way that animus is expressed toward Latinos today.
Elections represent group contestations over political power. The rise of Latino candidates for public office and campaigns that emphasize anti-Latino immigration appeals have created an environment where animus toward Latinos is a dominant consideration in the minds of many White Americans. This chapter shows the pervasiveness of White animus toward Latinos across a range of federal and state elections, including its role in the election of Donald J. Trump as president in 2016. It then shows that candidates are often motivated to take a “hard-line” stance on issues like immigration when their constituents harbor resentment toward Latinos.
Americans often rely on language about failed Latino assimilation and disregard for Anglo-American norms in justifying their support for policies that adversely affect America’s Latino population. This chapter documents how many Whites deny racism in the midst of expressing these beliefs and an overview of the debate as to whether such claims are genuine expressions of disagreement over acceptable forms of social behavior or an ignored for of racial animus toward Latinos.
Animus toward Latinos is seeping its way into supposedly race-neutral policies such as crime control and policing. This chapter documents how the “browning” of crime news can prime animus toward Latinos when people are asked to make judgments about criminal justice policies. This animus toward Latinos is demonstrated to have a strong relationship with a desire to increase criminal sentencing, devote more resources to law enforcement, and limit police accountability via body cameras. The connection between animus toward Latinos’ and Whites’ criminal justice policy preferences is consistent with the idea that, for many Americans, crime control policies are a means of social control over disliked minority groups.
Although Latinos are now the largest non-majority group in the United States, existing research on white attitudes toward Latinos has focused almost exclusively on attitudes toward immigration. This book changes that. It argues that such accounts fundamentally underestimate the political power of whites' animus toward Latinos and thus miss how conflict extends well beyond immigration to issues such as voting rights, criminal punishment, policing, and which candidates to support. Providing historical and cultural context and drawing on rich survey and experimental evidence, the authors show that Latino racism-ethnicism is a coherent belief system about Latinos that is conceptually and empirically distinct from other forms of out-group hostility, and from partisanship and ideology. Moreover, animus toward Latinos has become a powerful force in contemporary American politics, shaping white public opinion in elections and across a number of important issue areas - and resulting in policies that harm Latinos disproportionately.