American attitudes toward guest worker policies

Shayerah Ilias, Katherine Fennelly, Christopher M Federico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In this study we use data from a 2004 New York Times/CBS News national survey to analyze public opinion toward a guest worker program and to compare predictors of support for guest worker and general immigration policies. In general, Americans tend to be divided in their attitudes toward a guest worker program, although support for temporary worker policies is stronger when legalization for unauthorized immigrants is conditioned on certain requirements, and when the program is coupled with enhanced border security. The results of the bivariate probit analysis indicate that individuals who favor reducing the immigration level also tend to oppose instituting a guest worker program. Perceptions of the "costs"of immigration emerged as the most important determinant of individuals' attitudes toward immigration policies; such beliefs contributed to opposition to a guest worker policy and support for reducing the immigration level. We also found that residents of high-immigration states and Latinos were more likely to support a temporary worker program. However, these characteristics do not appear to influence individuals'judgments about the number of immigrants who should be admitted to the United States. Findings regarding the impact of political partisanship and ideology on attitudes toward the two policies were more ambiguous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-766
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Migration Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008


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