Alien Citizens, Immigrants, and Perceived Discrimination among Latinos

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273 SS&H | UC Davis

Latino citizenship has historically been contested. The racialization of citizenship status, Rocco (2014) contends, has led to citizens becoming de facto “foreigners,” or what Ngai (2005) calls “alien citizens.” Concomitant with one’s citizenship status, however, is demonstrable variation in generational status and assimilation markers, for example language use. The tethering of citizens to immigrants coupled with historical marginalization of Latinos has led some to contend second generation Latinos are experiencing “downward assimilation” (Portes and Zhao 1993). We address the issue of citizenship status and assimilation markers and ask two questions: 1) To what extent do Latinos perceive external discrimination as a problem? and 2) To what extent do Latino group attributes, in particular, citizenship status, mitigate the perceptions of discrimination as a major problem? We find Latino perceptions of discrimination is a decreasing function of “proximity” to the “canonical immigrant;” however, we also demonstrate the “gap” between citizens and immigrants for many Latinos is nonexistent. With respect to reported rates of direct discrimination–i.e. being a victim of discrimination–we show evidence that most Latino subgroups report similarly high rates across the design period of this study.

Bradford Jones
Brad Jones
Professor of Political Science, UC Davis

Professor Bradford Jones is a teacher and scholar of race and ethnic politics in the US, immigration opinion, legislative behavior on the immigration issue, as well as statistical methods.  His research on these topics has been published in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics as well as number of other venues.  Professor Jones' research examines the nexus between non-Latino perceptions of Latinos and how this relates to policy preferences on the undocumented immigration issue, voting rights and perceptions of discrimination among Latinos in the United States. 

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