The Final Database of Anti-Immigrant Organizations, Part 1: An explanation of our data, methods, and coding mechanism

            Our final data set includes 49 different restrictionist websites comprised of 41 individual organizations and 8 coalition groups. This blog will discuss Professor Sohoni and my data collection process, specifically focusing on (1) the selection criteria used to determine which anti-immigrant groups were included in our final database, (2) the basis of our analysis/evaluation of useful restrictionist websites, (3) the final coding mechanism used to classify the arguments posited by each organization, and, finally, (4) a summary of our multi-level approach to analyze the resultant data.

             Professor Sohoni and I searched for relevant anti-immigrant organizations using four particular methods. First, we used the search engine, Google, confining our search terms to “immigrant restrictionist groups” and “anti-immigrant groups”. We then utilized the directories of anti-immigrant groups advertised on certain watchdog organizations’ websites. Watchdog groups are organizations that hold accountable public personalities and institutions whose functions impact a society’s political and social discourse. Our third method for finding relevant anti-immigrant groups was to scan umbrella organizations or coalitions, as these groups often compiled detailed lists of their financial and ideological supporters. Our final way of searching for restrictionist groups was to use the ‘Links’ page of each anti-immigrant website to find other associated groups (with their own Links page) that could be included in our database.

             After compiling a list of 63 organizations, Professor Sohoni and I fine-tuned our selection criteria more effectively filter out illegitimate/unrelated organizations. Our criteria were based on several important components. To start with, more than 50% of the website’s content had to be related to immigration issues. This meant that organizations which presented some anti-immigrant sentiment, such as Tea Party and white supremacist groups, could not be included in our final data set because immigration reform/reduction only represented one facet of a much larger platform. Additionally, organizations included in our final database also had to demonstrate that they were organized and registered as national non-profit organizations with a 501 [c](3) or [c](4) IRS status. Finally, all organizations under consideration had to evidence of posts/updates on their websites since one year prior to our week of data collection, or August 2010. This component was particularly important as it made sure that all groups included in our database were still active.