Since the late 2000s, migratory patterns to the United States from the southern border have undergone a steady transformation. A shift in migratory demographics among those going north has occurred, moving away from economic migrants, composed mostly of Mexican men, to Central American asylum seekers, made up of more women and children than is found in the former case. With this changing demographic of migrants coming from the U.S.-Mexico border, there is the question of how differently this new migrant demographic will be treated by the U.S. public. Scholars have noted popular framing of immigrants as depicting an overrepresentation of Latinos as these immigrants, painting them as criminals, cultural “others,” and so-called invaders that “swarm” or “flood” certain communities in terms of population growth. With these entrenched societal frames in mind, there is the question of how the U.S. public would react to the new migratory demographic of Central American asylum seekers. This Independent Study project aims to answer the question of how differences in media framing of asylum seekers’ reasons for asylum influence U.S. natives’ attitudes on refugee admittance policy. This question was explored through a survey experiment that presented two frames of asylum seeker claims, being either public violence or private violence as justifications for seeing refuge in the U.S., through a fictional story. Respondents’ opinions on refugee admission levels, a recent asylum policy, and expansion of the U.S. refugee definition were then inquired into within all three of the control, public violence, and private violence treatment groups. The results indicated that both the public and private violence frames did not significantly impact respondents’ opinions on refugee admittance attitudes and policy.


Corral, Alvaro


Political Science


American Politics


Immigrants, Migration, Refugees, Trump, Asylum, United States, Central America

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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