This thesis is an empirical investigation into the impact of geographic contextual factors on the immigration attitudes of individuals residing in the continental United States. Research from Fussell (2013) highlights the increasing feelings of warmth and positivity felt by U.S. citizens towards immigrants. When considering this trend in the wake of the election of Donald Trump on a highly restrictionist platform, how do we square this increase in warmth with the prominent re-emergence of nativist sentiments within certain segments of the population? This thesis is an attempt to provide clarity to this “immigration puzzle” which exists in the American public. Utilizing U.S. Census data from 1990-2000, I compare the Rate of Change of state immigration population in the United States to the answers of respondents in Deborah Schildkraut’s 2004 21st Century Americanism Survey. The questions drawn from the survey focused on the respondent’s opinions of both legal and illegal immigration to the United States, as well as insight into their views of immigrant “deservingness” of government benefits. In doing so, I conclude that geographic contextual data, such as the rate of change within an individual’s state immigrant population can have a significant impact on that individual’s opinion of immigrants and the immigration system as a whole.


Corral, Alvaro


Political Science


American Politics | Models and Methods


immigration, diversity levels, nativism

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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