Garcia, Blake Evan (2015-05). International Migration and Extreme-Right Terrorism. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Is right-wing terrorism a response to rising immigration levels? I argue that influxes of immigrants into host states create a motive for violence to members of the extreme-right because it embodies an inherent threat to the ideological imperative of the political movement. I argue that two opportunity structures serve as justifications for acting on the motive. First, a domestic economic opportunity structure arises when both the economy is declining and when immigration becomes a salient national issue. These conditions produce an opportunity for action by creating a context in which immigration can be linked to a declining economy. Second, a spatial opportunity structure arises when extreme-right attacks occur in proximate geographical areas. In this case, attacks that occur nearby that are clearly identified as an expression of the extreme-right ideology can legitimate subsequent attacks, serve as a template for emulating that behavior, and may also create the perception among the terrorists that the government is reaching a tipping point. I test these arguments in a cross-national empirical analysis of 18 Western European Countries from 1970 to 2004 as well as in a sub-national analysis of English administrative regions from 1998 to 2005. The cross-national analysis generated strong evidence for the economic opportunity argument and no evidence to support the spatial opportunity argument. The results were highly consistent across all models. In contrast, the sub-national analysis indicated support for the spatial opportunity argument and no support for the economic opportunity argument. The construction of the spatial lag in the cross-national context versus the sub-national context most likely accounts for the these disparate findings.

publication date

  • May 2015