Si se puede: The effects of collective angst and identity on group activism during the national immigration debate

Corin Ramos, University of Texas at El Paso


The United States is involved in an ongoing debate on immigration. States have passed their own laws intended to enforce federal law. The new controversial laws allow local law enforcement to act as federal immigration agents. Opponents argue these new laws unlawfully target Latinos. Latinos are of interest for politicians and lawmakers, due to their rapid growing population. The current research investigated the effects that anti-immigrant laws have on Latino citizens' American identity, ethnic identity and civic engagement. Preliminary data showed conservative Latinos have low intention of voting when primed with anti-immigrant laws. Absent from the pilot study are the emotional changes occurring. In the current study, the threat of anti-immigrant laws is amplified to induce collective angst; a fear of an uncertain future for one's group. Findings include heightened collective angst in Latinos under threat of impending restrictive immigration legislation. Collective angst mediated the effect of threat on attitudes toward collective action. Latinos who experienced threat also experienced fear for Latinos' future and led to more support for benevolent and hostile forms of collective action. Latinos also had higher support for collective action as their ethnic identity increased, when under threat. The current research adds to the body of knowledge surrounding national and ethnic identity. Further, the current research provides insight as to why ethnic minorities distance themselves from certain political parties. This research also serves to caution lawmakers who draft laws that may violate a group's civil rights.^

Subject Area

Political Science, International Law and Relations|Psychology, General

Recommended Citation

Ramos, Corin, "Si se puede: The effects of collective angst and identity on group activism during the national immigration debate" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1557784.