McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Blanca Silva

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Major and Classification

Political Science and Minor in Business

Faculty Mentor

  • Ricardo Ramirez, Ph.D.

Department

  • Political Science

McNair Project

Linking Social Life to Political Life: The Role of Media and Religion in Immigration Mobilization

In 2006 when millions of marchers took to the streets of over 150 cities nationwide, the church was highlighted as a playing a leading role in mobilizing people attend in the pro-immigration demonstrations. The Catholic Church, for instance, encouraged Catholics to participate in the marches and provided bishops and priests as keynote speakers (Kerwin 2006). However, with little mention of the church's role as a mediating agency for the 2007 Los Angeles immigration rallies, only 25,000 protestors participated and organized in front of City Hall (Leovy 2007). Though there were general assumptions about the reasons and causes of the Los Angeles immigration protests, no qualitative evidence was provided or suggested by scholars. Methods. Thus, using surveys conducted during the May 1st 2007 Los Angeles immigration rallies and exploratory multivariate analysis, I seek to determine the potential differences and sources of information which impacted rally participants' most important reasons for attending the marches. This paper examines participants' demographic profiles, participation trends among Latinos verses non-Latinos, the use of media for political information, the use of Spanish-language media for political news, and the role of religious institutions in mobilizing communities. Conclusions. Interestingly, results showed that among Latinos, only 11.5 percent noted being first time immigration rally participants, where as among non-Latinos, that percentage almost tripled. Results also indicate that the majority of the demonstrators heard about the marches via Spanish television and radio and less from religious institutions. However, while religious institutions did not get credit for turning out the crowds as was the case in 2006, many respondents indicated that they were encouraged to attend.