How do we feel about immigrants?

1892_small_fullsizeLeftover sends this incredible study from the Public Religion Research Institute. The study includes:

More than two-thirds (68%) of young adults (age 18 to 29) say that immigrants coming to the U.S. strengthen the country, while fewer than one in five (19%) say that immigrants threaten traditional American customs and values. In contrast, only 36% of seniors (age 65 and older) believe that newcomers strengthen American society, while close to half (44%) of seniors believe that immigrants coming to the U.S. are a threat. Notably, 12% of seniors offer no opinion on this issue.


Religiously unaffiliated Americans, those who belong to non-Christian religious traditions, and non-white Christians hold the most positive views of immigrants. At least seven in ten Unitarian Universalists (81%), Hindus (73%), Muslims (72%), and Hispanic Catholics (70%) say that newcomers coming to the U.S. strengthen the country.


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  1. There appears to be a significant discrepancy between the sample size reported in the methodology section at the web page, (81, 970), and the sample size reported in the PDF version of the report, (42,586).

    I have an email into PRRI about it….no answer as yet.

    Either way, the sample size is still yuuuge, making the survey more notable than most surveys that usually have sample sizes around 1,000-2,000.

    You’ll notice that most of the respondents who said immigrants present a threat to “American culture” also prefer a pathway to citizenship over identification/deportation or permanent legal residency. Keep in mind that there are significant differences within our general population as to what constitutes such a “pathway.”

    1. Very good observation, that pathway thing. And thank you for catching the difference in the sample size. I blew right past that.

      1. Any “pathway to citizenship” being proposed in immigration reform can more accurately be described as an obstacle course. The various plans differ somewhat in degrees of difficulty depending on the actual motive of whoever/whatever is proposing the reform.

        I came across the discrepancy on closer examination of the Party Affiliation and Ideology charts. So I think the 42,586 number is probably the correct number. Like I said, still a notably large sample. I’m going to go back over the PDF to see if I missed something after more coffee and headlines. (RIP Patty Duke.)

  2. I wonder how “traditional American customs and values” are defined. We are a diverse society, so whose customs and values are “American”? Maybe education on what all is American and who are Americans may be in order.

  3. Let’s be smart about them. Do all the background. I fully accept all immigrants! Pls insure they’re not

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