In recent years, however, vitriolic characterizations of immigrants and draconian plans for their exclusion have been floated by political candidates to a surprisingly receptive public. While the U.S. extended refugee status to 3 million persons since 1975, only about 28 percent of the American public currently endorses the continued admission of Syrian refugees. Only 1,854 Syrian refugees—mostly single mothers and their children — have been granted entry between 2012 and September 2015. Recent expressions of hostility towards immigrants and refugees and the adoption of an anti-immigrant platform by the Republican Party are regarded by editorial writers and other pundits as evidence of a fundamental transformation in American attitudes towards migration.
Is anti-immigrant sentiment a recent phenomenon? If so, what is the source of this dramatic transformation?