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Polit Groups Identities. 2015;3(3):454-468.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place: The relationship between Latino/a's personal connections to immigrants and issue salience and presidential approval.

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University of New Mexico.
University of Wisconsin-Madison.
University of Washington.


The Obama administration has simultaneously marketed the prospect of providing undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship through comprehensive immigration reform and overseen mass deportations of mostly Latino immigrants. While it is clear that immigration policy was highly influential to Latino voters in 2012, it remains unclear how this political hypocrisy is being interpreted by Latino voters. As deportations have risen steadily during the Obama administration, there has been little research on how deportations and personal connections to undocumented immigrants have influenced the political attitudes of the Latino/a electorate. Using a nationally representative survey of 800 registered Latino/a voters administered in 2013, we explore the relationships between personal connections to undocumented immigrants and issue salience among Latinos as well as Latinos' views of President Obama. This study finds that registered Latino voters who know deportees and undocumented immigrants are more likely to report that they think the President and Congress should act on immigration policy versus all other policies. Moreover, Latino voters who know someone who is undocumented are less likely to have favorable views towards President Obama. This study has implications for our collective knowledge of how direct and indirect connections to policy outcomes influences the political behavior of the highly influential Latino/a electorate and how political and policy outcomes will be influenced in the future when a much higher proportion of the electorate have such connections.


Deportation; Immigration; Latino; Political Participation; Race and Ethnicity; Undocumented

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