Historically, many Americans have held negative feelings toward immigrants. This appears especially true, as recent political campaigns and voter initiatives indicate, in the case of Mexican immigrants. Media misrepresentations of immigrants, and particularly Mexicans, play a significant role in shaping public attitudes and opinion.
For those without any first-hand experience, the media are the main source of information, assumptions, and sentiments about immigrants and their U.S.-born descendants. For immigrants, media portrayals constitute Americans evaluation of them and their immigrant experience. In describing the role of film as a social educator, Carlos E. Cortés writes that Hollywood movies offer a kind of popular curriculum on immigration.
In this article, we examine media portrayals of Mexican immigrants, and the interplay between these images and portrayals of U.S.-born Latinos.