CPAC III: Crossing Borders

May 1, 2015
Seigle Hall, Room 248

The conference will examine issues broadly related to immigration, including public opinion and attitudes, vote choice and political parties, as well as trade and investment. The invited participants and their papers are:

Claire Adida, University of California, San Diego

"Ebola, Elections, and Immigration" (with Kim Yi Dionne and Melina Platas Izama)

Do infectious disease threats affect attitudes toward immigration? Scholarship investigating the determinants of individual attitudes toward immigration has found that, across a wide range of contexts, cultural threats increase exclusionary attitudes toward immigrants. Yet much of this literature is apolitical, in that it does not consider how political entrepreneurs might exploit such threats to move public opinion on immigration. Our paper leverages the Ebola crisis in the United States, which coincided with the 2014 midterm elections, and which politicians sought to manipulate for political gain, to assess the extent and limitations of the politicization of a crisis that conflates public health and cultural threats. We ran a survey experiment between November and December 2014 to measure the American public's response toward Ebola and immigration. Our results confirm that public opinion on immigration is easily and drastically swayed by political entrepreneurs, and that this effect is not merely driven by partisanship.

Terri Givens, University of Texas, Austin

"The Politics of Immigrant Integration: Public Opinion and Party Politics" (with  Pete Mohanty)

Immigrant integration has come to the forefront as a policy issue in the last few decades, particularly after events like the terror attacks of 9/11, the subsequent Madrid and London bombings and the Danish cartoons controversy.  These events have also led to an emphasis on immigration and religion, particularly the growth of Islam in Europe. As Muslims have become more defined as a group, rather than as part of their respective nationalities and ethnicities or skin colors, they have become the focus of restrictive immigration policies, punitive integration measures and citizenship tests designed to test for “anti-liberal” values. In this article we begin by examining the literature on immigrant integration, and then we analyze public opinion, particularly in regard to Muslim immigrants and perceptions of their integration into European society.  We then examine policy, where we find major overlap between immigration control and integration policy. We conclude with examples for further research

Jens Hainmueller, Stanford University and Dominik Hangartner, London School of Economics

"Does Naturalization Promote the Long-Term Social and Political Integration of Immigrants? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Switzerland" (with Giuseppe Pietrantuono)

The social and political integration of immigrant minorities into the host country society is one of the most pressing policy issues many countries face today. Despite heated debates there exists little rigorous evidence about whether naturalization fosters or dampens the integration of immigrants into the social and political fabric of the host society. In particular, we lack reliable evidence that isolates the causal effect of naturalization from the non-random selection into naturalization. We exploit the quasi-random assignment of citizenship in Swiss municipalities that used referendums to decide on naturalization decisions of immigrants. Comparing otherwise similar immigrants who narrowly won or narrowly lost their naturalization referendums, we find that receiving Swiss citizenship strongly improved the long term social and political integration of immigrants. We also find that the integration returns to naturalization are much larger for more marginalized immigrant groups and when naturalization occurs earlier, rather than later in the residency period. Taken together, our findings support the idea that naturalization can propel social and political integration by giving immigrants the resources and incentives to invest in a future in the host country.

Jonathan Hiskey, Vanderbilt University

"Agitation, Satisfaction, or Both? Economic Development Levels and the Political Behavior Patterns of Remittance Recipients" (with Abby Cordova)

Remittances have become a chief source of family income for many across the developing world. As such, remittances are likely to impact recipients’ political behavior. Empirical studies investigating this proposition, however, have yielded seemingly contradictory findings in terms of the nature and direction of this influence. We develop a theory that highlights the importance of national economic development levels to better understand cross-national variations in the political behavior patterns of remittance recipients. We posit that higher economic development results in a lower probability of political participation among remittance recipients when compared to non-recipients, while, conversely, in lesser-developed countries, remittance recipients are more likely to participate in politics than their non-recipient counterparts. We find support for our theory in the Latin American and Caribbean context.

Kyung Joon Han, University of Tennessee 

"What Makes Niche Parties Niche Parties?: Past Election Result, Issue Salience, and the Nicheness of Niche Parties"

When do niche parties emphasize their core issues more and intensify their niche party profiles and when do they weaken their niche party profiles and try to broaden their constituency base? We suggest that the past election result determines niche parties’ choice between these two strategies, but the effect is constrained by the salience level of their core issues. Using quantitative data on party manifestoes and public opinion in Western European countries from 1980 to 2012, we find that vote loss drives niche parties to concentrate on their core issues more when issue salience level is high. In contrast, vote loss makes niche parties embrace a wide range of issues and weaken their niche party profiles when their core issues are not salient issues. However, such an interactive effect of the electoral outcome and issue salience is found only among radical right-wing parties, not among ecology parties. The result implies that issue salience plays a critical role in determining the strategic choice of niche parties. It also implies that there is a significant difference in the party behaviors between two main niche party families (ecology and radical right-wing parties) as well as between mainstream and niche parties. Finally, mainstream parties can also play a role in determining the electoral strategies of niche parties because issue salience is also manipulated by mainstream parties.

David Leal, University of Texas, Austin 

"Transnational Voting and Transnational Partisanship among Mexican Immigrants in the United States"​ (with James A.McCann and Wayne A. Cornelius)

Many migrants to the U.S. become engaged in public affairs in their country of origin.  Does transnational political engagement make immigrants less subject to civic incorporation in the United States?  Or are the two forms of political involvement compatible, and even mutually reinforcing?  We assess these questions via a large two-wave panel survey of Mexican immigrants in 2006, when major national elections took place in both Mexico and the United States.  The findings indicate that remote political engagement in Mexican politics is not a barrier to incorporation in the American context, and it may well stimulate interest and participation in U.S. elections.  In addition, we consider how identification with American political parties is shaped by immigrants’ identifications with one of the three major political parties in Mexico, the National Action Party (PAN), the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).  Are Mexican immigrants who consider themselves panista, priísta, orperredista more or less likely to identify as a Democrat or Republican?  And does identification with a specific party in Mexico lead to identification with an American counterpart?

Margaret Peters, Yale University 

"Immigration Policy in Small Countries: The Case of Singapore and the Netherlands"

This chapter examines how globalization affects immigration policy in two small countries, Singapore and the Netherlands. I argue that increased competition in export markets along with increased opportunities to invest overseas has led to increased restrictions on low-skill immigration policy. Increased competition in key export markets leads less productive and smaller low-skill labor intensive firms to close while increased opportunities to invest overseas allows larger, more productive firms to move low-skill labor intensive production to locations with lower labor costs. Either way, firms need less low-skill labor at home and are less likely to lobby for open immigration. To test these arguments, this chapter uses process tracing to examine why low-skill immigration policy has become more restrictive in these two countries since the 1970s and 1980s.


Jeremy Wallace, Ohio State University 

"Nationalism and Nativism: Varieties of Other in China" (with Jessica Chen Weiss)

Observers of Chinese politics have become inured to the frequent incantation that the regime’s legitimacy rests on a combination of strong economic performance and nationalist credentials. Yet strong economic growth in China has been accompanied by rising divisions between rural and urban, migrants and locals, and ethnic minorities and Han. Does nationalism increase domestic unity—papering over within-China divisions? Does the nature of the nationalist message—victory or victim—matter? Do some nationalist narratives exacerbate antagonisms toward all varieties of “other”—including migrant workers and ethnic minorities? We employ a national survey experiment to investigate how Chinese citizens respond to a variety of nationalist primes commonly employed by the Chinese Communist Party.

You can find the conference program here.