by: John Rodriguez
In a study entitled, “Who ‘They’ Are Matters” by Jeffrey M. Timberlake, an associate professor of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati, showed how stereotypes of Latino immigrants impacted the lives of Latino immigrants living in the United States. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Timberlake and his colleagues interviewed a total of 2,150 registered voters in Ohio to show how stereotypes impacted both the lives of immigrants and non-immigrants.
From the interviews it was concluded that the possible view held by U.S. citizens on Latino—our other group outside of Latin America—immigrants are stereotyped and disliked because of a strong belief that immigration in general is a negative impact on the country. But the specific stereotyping of certain group “is often filtered through attitudes toward the particular characteristics they believe immigrant group holds.”
Between November 2007 and May 2008, the researchers used data compiled by the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research to bring forth these findings. Timberlake and his colleagues found Ohio to be an “ideal” location to study the attitude citizens have toward immigrants because most part of the state “have little direct contact with recent immigrants,” and are “relatively unaffected by actual immigration levels,” which would show how the limited contact could bring forth a negative view on immigration due to stereotyping.
The Census data of Ohio shows that only 3.8% of 11.5 million residents are immigrants, while a total of 12.7% of foreign-born people make up the national population of 311 million. On the national percentage of the United States there are about 16.7% of Latinos in the country with an estimated 3.2% of Latino residents living in Ohio.
For the study, the researchers asked the Ohioan interviewees to attribute characteristics of four immigrant groups: Latin Americans, Asians, Europeans, and Middle Easterners. Each interviewee was asked to evaluate a group of immigrants and say whether they believed the members of said group were rich or poor, intelligent or unintelligent, self-sufficient or dependent on the government, and so on.
On the beliefs of Latino Immigrants the study concluded that people stereotyped Latino immigrants as to having had a negative impact on both the country’s labor and educational situation. The study also found that Latino immigrants posed a danger to public safety. These findings were specifically attributed to Latino immigrants and not the others asked to describe.
While these findings may give some explanation for the stereotypes most immigrants, Latino or not, face it doesn’t excuse the treatment towards immigrants. With most social media outlets, like talk-news, allowing anti-immigrant or anti-immigration proponents to speak their dislike against this society in the country it furthers and backs these stereotypes while falsely allowing them. And with no one to argue for this invisible society in America these stereotypes will only continue. Immigrants and Immigration isn’t the problem, a lack of understanding of the real problem is.