Immigrants and American Public Opinion

posted in: News | 0

Many Americans believe that immigrants enrich our country’s culture and economy. They are a vital part of our nation’s communities and make essential contributions to the workforce. They also face a number of challenges, including high levels of workplace and other discrimination and difficulty making ends meet. Despite these obstacles, most immigrants say they are satisfied with their lives in the United States and that the people in their neighborhoods are welcoming to them.

There are several different definitions of the term “immigrant.” The most widely used is to describe someone who has moved from one country to another for the purpose of establishing a permanent new residence. However, some studies use more general terms such as migrant, foreign-born or non-national to refer to people who have changed their place of residence without settling permanently. These definitions may be useful for comparison purposes but do not capture the full range of human migration.

Most immigrants come to the United States for economic reasons rather than out of a need for protection or refuge from persecution. But a large share of immigrants are migrants who have a well-founded fear of persecution or death if they return home. In such cases, they are often granted asylum.

The United States is home to more than 27 million immigrants, about a third of all international migrants. This figure includes those with legal and undocumented status.

Immigrants are disproportionately concentrated in the largest cities in the country, with most living in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. They are also highly represented in a variety of industries, with two-fifths working in agriculture and forestry and a quarter in manufacturing and construction. Immigrants are also disproportionately found in the health care and social assistance industries, where they account for more than 4 million of the nation’s workers.

Many surveys include questions on attitudes toward immigration and ask respondents to identify whether they are in favor of, opposed to or neutral about it. However, a significant amount of public opinion research on immigration has not clearly defined its terms, leaving respondents to answer questions based on their own implicit definitions. For example, some surveys use the term to refer to anyone who has emigrated to the UK “to live” (Ipsos MORI) or to those who have settled in the UK (British Social Attitudes).

The immigration debate has been driven by a number of historical trends and political pressures. The peaks in immigration that occurred during the late 1800s and early 1900s were driven by a mix of factors, including religious and political persecution, crop failures, and the expansion of the American West. These events led to a series of restrictive immigration laws that included the 1917 Immigration Act, which established a national-origins quota system with strong preferences for immigrants from Northern and Western Europe. Eventually, these restrictions started to decline and were replaced by a new philosophy that emphasized family unity. These changes shifted the focus of immigration policy to a more balanced approach.