Pew Research Center Report on Immigrants

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Immigrants are an essential part of the United States’ economy, working in a wide range of occupations and making extensive contributions to their communities. Their work bolsters the nation’s agricultural and fishing industries, as well as its computer and math sciences sectors. And they provide much-needed health care and social assistance services. In addition, they are the country’s largest employers of high-skilled workers and make up nearly half of all medical and nursing professionals.

The Pew Research Center’s report on immigrants takes a closer look at the economic and social contributions of this large, diverse group. It also discusses the challenges they face, as well as their outlook on the future. The report draws on seven focus groups with immigrant adults in locations around the country, as well as interviews with experts in immigration law, policy and outreach.

Immigration is a complicated and nuanced issue, as are the many reasons people choose to immigrate. The most common reasons that people give for coming to the United States are for better job and educational opportunities, a desire to build a stronger and safer future for their children, or to escape unsafe or unsustainable conditions in their home countries.

While most people who come to the United States say their living situation is better here than in their home country of birth, many still face serious challenges – from workplace and other forms of discrimination to difficulty making ends meet to confusion and fears about U.S. laws and policies. These challenges can vary by immigration status, as well as by race and ethnicity, income, gender and English proficiency.

Whether they are naturalized citizens or formally documented residents, most immigrants feel a deep attachment to their new country and want to remain here. In fact, eight in ten immigrants say they would make the same choice if they had to do it all over again.

In 2018, more than 28 million immigrants lived in the United States, and a majority of them (57%) were born outside the country. About three-quarters of them are employed, and almost half report being overqualified for their jobs. Some of the largest concentrations of immigrants live in historically important immigrant gateway cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, but a growing number live throughout the nation.

Across the United States, immigrant communities are rich with tradition and cultural heritage. They are a source of energy and ingenuity, and they continue to enrich the American experience. They can also be a source of tension and conflict. To understand the full extent of these dynamics, it is important to consider the experiences and views of all immigrants. To do this, the Pew Research Center surveyed immigrant adults nationwide in late 2018. This report highlights key findings from that survey and offers a glimpse into the lives of people from around the world who call America home.