KFF/LA Times Survey of Immigrants

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International migration is the movement of people from one country to another for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s to work, pursue better opportunities, seek asylum or simply move for pleasure, many of us are immigrants at some point in our lives. In fact, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “a migrant is a person who has moved from his or her usual residence in order to reside permanently in a different country.”

This KFF/LA Times Survey of Immigrants provides an overview of this diverse group, which includes those living legally with visas (including those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, or Temporary Protected Status, or TPS), as well as those who entered the United States without authorization and overstayed their permits. The share of the U.S. population consisting of unauthorized immigrants is significantly larger than those with legal status.

The Survey’s primary purpose is to provide a comprehensive picture of immigrant life in the United States, including how they fare economically and socially. To that end, the Survey asks about a wide range of topics, from what challenges and successes they have faced, to their attitudes toward immigration and the country they now call home.

Almost three in four immigrants say that they would choose to move to the United States again if they had it to do over, and six in ten say they plan to stay here permanently. These views hold across age groups, educational attainment, income levels and immigration status.

While most immigrants surveyed have found jobs, they face challenges in the workplace. For example, about a quarter of working immigrants report being overqualified for their position or being underpaid. Additionally, they are more likely than noncitizens to say that they lack health insurance coverage, which can limit their access to health services and may contribute to health problems.

More than half of surveyed immigrants from Mexico, the top origin country for U.S. immigrants, say that unsafe conditions in their homeland prompted them to leave their homes. This share rises to more than six in ten among those residing illegally in the United States.

The Survey also finds that most immigrants are satisfied with their lives in the United States, and a majority think that their children will have a better standard of living as adults than they do now. However, the financial security of most immigrants remains a concern; about half worry that they will not be able to afford basic necessities in the future, while about as many are afraid of losing their legal status or being deported. As a result, some of them are reluctant to engage in community activities or participate fully in society. This is particularly true of those who are unable to work legally. This may be due to their lack of connections, the language barrier or concerns about their safety. This can lead to a feeling of being on the margins of American society, even as most report enjoying their new life in the United States.