Home > Public Events > Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association
Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association
  • Where: The Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago
  • Who: PRRI CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones [presenter]; research director Daniel Cox; research associate Juhem Navarro-Rivera
  • What: Dr. Jones will present a paper as part of the APSA annual meeting titled “Religion, Values and Immigration Reform,” which examines the roles of religion and values in shaping public opinion about immigrants and immigration reform.

Abstract | Religion, Values, and Immigration Reform

The paper, based on a new major national telephone survey, will also explore how immigrants are impacting American religion and society more broadly.

For the last five years, immigration reform has been a contentious issue in American politics. In the spring and early summer of 2007, the Senate went through an extensive effort to pass bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform, but after months of debate the legislation ultimately failed to garner the support needed to pass. During the early stages of the 2008 presidential campaign, immigration remained a salient issue nationally, and candidates from both parties pledged to work with Congress to overhaul the immigration system during their first year in office.

Although immigration legislation suffered a series of setbacks during Obama’s first term, the landscape looks considerably different in 2013. First, the issue of immigration reform appears likely to be a major item on the legislative agenda in 2013. Even before the final votes were tallied, Obama hinted that, if reelected, immigration reform would be among his top priorities. Obama’s commanding advantage in the 2012 election among Asian and Hispanic Americans, two groups for whom the issue of immigration is highly salient, also reignited the discussion on immigration reform, especially among Republican politicians wary of the challenges presented by a shifting demographic landscape. Second, religious communities on both the left and the right are strongly advocating for immigration reform.

In an original telephone survey of over 3,000 Americans, we will explore the role that religion and values play in galvanizing public support or opposition to a comprehensive immigration reform. We will also examine which individual elements of prospective immigration policies are more popular, and how Americans react to practical, faith-based, and security-based arguments. Additionally, this project will assess how views of immigrants are changing and evaluate the role that personal experience and social interactions have in stimulating or mitigating the extent to which some Americans see immigrants as a cultural or economic threat.