Building on the Intergroup Contact Theory (ICT; Allport, 1954), this study increases understanding of the forms and nature of intergroup contact that may promote support for integrationist immigration policymaking. Additionally, this study explores mechanisms by which such relationships may exist. Representing one of the first tests of ICT’s deprovincialization hypothesis, a serial indirect effects pathway involving ethnocentrism and Latinx immigrant threat attitudes is explored.
Methods: Cross-sectional data (N=708) were collected from U.S.-born white college students. The majority of participants were female (77%). The average age was 27.51 (SD=9.15). Using structural equation modeling and a bias-corrected bootstrap approachin Mplus v7.4, a serial indirect effects model was examined.
Results: Fit indices indicated the model had good fit (χ2(1321) = 2559.93, p<.001; CFI=.92; SRMR=.05; RMSEA=.036[.034-.038]). Holding controls constant, results indicated both intimate contact (β=-.12, p<.01) and casual community contact (β=-.13, p<.001) with people of color were associated with less ethnocentrism. In turn, less ethnocentrism was associated with less Latinx immigrant threat perception (β=.59, p<.001), which was then inversely related to support for integrationist policymaking (extending pathways to legal status: β=-.26, p<.01; extending more rights and benefits: β=-.46, p<.001). Intimate contact was indirectly related to more support for integrationist policymaking by way of ethnocentrism and threat attitudes (legal status: bootstrapped CI95%= [.001, .005], B=.002; rights and benefits: bootstrapped CI95%= [.001, .011], B=.005). Casual community contact was indirectly related to more support for integrationist policymaking by way of ethnocentrism and threat attitudes (pathways to legal status: bootstrapped CI95%= [.001, .011], B=.005; rights and benefits: bootstrapped CI95%= [.005, .020], B=.012). Intergroup contact with people of color at college was unrelated to all variables of interest.
Conclusions and Implications: Social work research has largely focused on examining the impact of anti-immigrant sentiment and policymaking. This study examines strategies to abate and prevent inharmonious intergroup relations. Findings inform mezzo- and macro-level interventions to promote racial integration and target ethnocentrism. The significance of findings for social work are couched in terms of the Grand Challenge of Achieving Equal Opportunity and Justice. The argument is forwarded that this Grand Challenge can only be attained if concerted efforts are made to address the immigration status challenges of UPRs.