Naturalise or deport? the distinct logics of support for different immigration outcomes

Existing literature examines how different immigrant attributes influence support for admission and naturalisation, but few studies consider how they affect support for deportation. Naturalisation and deportation follow distinct logics, with the former marking full inclusion into the nation and the latter involving complete exclusion. Citizens are likely to include (through naturalisation) immigrants who have economic and cultural attributes that aid host country integration but will not necessarily exclude (through deportation) immigrants without such traits. Instead, deportation may be reserved for immigrants who have broken rules by entering illegally or overstaying visas. We test our expectations through a survey experiment in which respondents were asked whether hypothetical immigrants already living in the United States should be granted citizenship, allowed to stay without citizenship, or deported. An immigrant’s legal status strongly influenced respondents’ support for both naturalisation and deportation, while economic and cultural characteristics primarily affected support for naturalisation. Host society integration, including an immigrant’s intention to vote if granted citizenship, increased support for naturalisation. Republicans were substantially more likely to deport and less likely to naturalise any hypothetical immigrant. Our findings highlight the need for more research on the factors that shape attitudes toward deportation as a distinct immigration outcome.

Beth Elise Whitaker and John Andrew Doces, Naturalise or deport? the distinct logics of support for different immigration outcomes, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2021.