New Report: What Immigration Issues Do Americans Hold Sacred?
Why has immigration moved from being a mundane policy issue into one of the most hotly-debated topics in American politics today? Why was family separation so widely rebuked by the public and why is building a border wall so divisive?
Answers to these questions can be found in a new report published by the Center for Inclusion and Belonging at the American Immigration Council and Over Zero, titled: “What Immigration Issues Do Americans Hold Sacred? A Psychological Journey into American Attitudes Towards Immigrants” by Nichole Argo, Ph.D. and Kate Jassin, Ph.D.
The report—and the behavioral survey upon which it is based—overcome the limitations of traditional polling by digging deeper into how deeply respondents think about immigration issues, and why they feel the way that they do.
In March 2020, the authors conducted a nationally representative survey to examine 14 key immigration issues. They asked respondents to choose between an open or restrictive stance on each issue, then reflect on how much it mattered to them. They then asked how much money it would take for respondents to give up this value.
Stances that cannot be traded away for any amount of money are considered “sacred values.” They are processed in the brain differently than regular values, and efforts to argue or negotiate around them as if they are regular values are likely to backfire.
How sacred is immigration in the United States today to those on the right and the left? Very. This is one explanation for why the debate becomes so heated on immigration and easily divides Americans.
What are the beliefs, values, experiences, and attitudes most associated with open or restrictive sacralization and what can we do about it?
View the full report and key findings here