In two experimental studies, we explored the politicized use of immigrant stereotypes by members of the Portuguese host society. Our goal was to demonstrate that stereotypes strategically vary to support political arguments and mobilize others towards one's political position. In Study 1, the way in which participants described immigrants varied as a function of (a) whether or not they were provided with the opportunity to mobilize an ingroup audience, (b) the direction in which they sought to mobilize that audience, and (c) the instrumentality of particular stereotypical traits in a given argumentative context. Study 2 examined the cognitive processes underlying the strategic expression of stereotypes, by measuring implicit stereotyping and manipulating participants’ ability to do cognitive work prior to and during stereotype expression. The findings showed that (a) variability in stereotype expression was matched by a consonant variability in implicit representations of immigrants, and that (b) the ability to do cognitive work was a necessary condition for variability in stereotype expression to emerge. Taken together, these findings suggest that strategic effects in stereotype expression are underpinned by strategic work on intra-psychic representations. We conclude by discussing the complementarity between strategic and cognitive explanations of stereotype expression, as well as by arguing the possibility of a more predictive approach to the politicized use of stereotypes.