Adem 2021

Citizenship and national belonging are topics that any modern state and society must address. In the U.S., proposals to eliminate birthright citizenship from the Constitution, a contentious battle over whether to add a citizenship question to the Census, and new restrictions on immigration are the most recent examples that forefront these topics to the public. In an ongoing project, my collaborator Denise Ambriz and I study how people evaluate issues related to immigration and citizenship in contemporary societies. We distinguish between legal membership (a citizen of the state) and cultural membership (i.e., who is considered a fellow American).

Key Findings

  • We find that immigrants who have documented status, arrived in the US as children, and escaped religious persecution or violence are more likely to be perceived as deserving of a pathway to legal membership.
  • Race and ethnicity remain a significant factor for who is considered an American.
  • The results also highlight how US-born Whites and racial minority groups (Black and Latinx) evaluate legal and cultural membership differently.