Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

First Advisor

Sarah Roberts Allen Gershon

Second Advisor

Lakeyta Bonnette

Third Advisor

Judd Thornton


This project focuses on the perception of immigrants as criminals, but more importantly, how this negative perception of immigrants can influence the population’s support for strict punitive policies. The question I seek to answer: will common negative perceptions of immigrants affect public support for more stringent punitive policies? The literature on what makes people punitive mostly focuses on the role of race and hostile feelings that lead to punitive feelings towards an immigrant. In this project, minorities and their attitudes in contrast to past studies that focus on White Americans will be central to the analysis. Analysis of both the 2012 National Election Survey and 2001 Los Angeles Social Survey data is used to explain how the relationship between economic threat and negative perceptions of immigrants lead to respondents becoming more punitive. Although respondents who feel economic threat are more punitive, there is a difference in significance between Whites and Blacks.