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Contact isn't enough: attitudes towards and misunderstandings about undocumented immigrants among a

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Ample evidence exists of bipartisan positive attitudes towards undocumented immigrants receiving a path to citizenship, and of a lack of US residents’ knowledge about undocumented immigration, but it is not yet clear whether individuals in the same sampling frame may exhibit both favourable attitudes towards and ignorance about undocumented immigrants. We used open- and closed-ended survey questions (N = 231) to probe perceptions of immigrants and knowledge about US immigration procedures in a cohort of demographically and ideologically diverse college students. Our findings confirmed largely favourable attitudes towards undocumented immigrants, but also misconceptions about undocumented immigrants’ rights and options with respect to citizenship. That this lack of understanding exists even in a diverse population with direct contact with undocumented immigrants suggests that such ignorance is pervasive, and not only likely to occur in areas where few undocumented immigrants live or where a conservative political climate creates a culture of exclusion.

KEYWORDS: Undocumented immigrationknowledgeignorancesurvey experimentspublic perceptionsattitudes

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