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A Muted Voice? Red Tape and Latino Political Participation

PAQ, Vol. 39 No. 1, (2015)

This paper examines Latinos’ perceptions of red tape in government policies and whether this impacts their political attitudes and participation. This research argues that, under the guise of national security rhetoric, policies and red tape disproportionately affecting Latinos in the United States have increased and may be linked to Latino political participation. This may account for variation in participation rates among Latinos that is not explained through the traditional socio- economic (SES) model of citizen participation. This research uses the conceptual framework of Moynihan’s and Herd’s Model of Red Tape and Citizenship Impact (2010) and Schneider and Ingram’s Theory of Policy Design (1997) to emphasize political participation is shaped from lessons learned through public policies, interaction with government entities, and experiences with red tape. Qualitative data was collected among Latinos residing along the southern international border of Arizona and New York. Findings suggest Latinos are not monolithic. Although Latino participants in both states perceived a deliberate targeting of Latinos through policies and red tape, subgroups emerged based on generational cohort, foreign or native born, immigration status, English proficiency, affiliation with community- based organizations, and skin color.

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