Many authoritative opinion polls in both the U.S. and Europe show a grossly misinformed public on the issue of immigration. Numerous studies demonstrate that anti-immigrant voter attitudes and economic and security concerns about immigration are not based on personal experience and are not driven by facts. I argue that misinformation, exaggeration, distortion of facts, and fabricated content—all bolstering false narratives about migrants—are important factors explaining the politics surrounding immigration policy in both Europe and in the U.S. I examine the origins of this misinformation, the conditions under which it spreads, and why a sizable percentage of the U.S. and European populations believes it. I conclude by looking at what can be done . to counter false narratives about migrants and bring back reasoned debate about immigration from its descent into “culture war outrage."
Bev Crawford, Professor Emerita of Political Science and Political Economy, UC Berkeley