The 2015 immigration survey report from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released this Tuesday offers new findings about Americans and their attitudes towards immigrants and immigration reform. The following are six key takeaways from the report:
- Younger Republicans tend to view immigrants more positively than older Republicans. As the report’s media release states, “…a slim majority (51 percent) of young Republicans say that the increasing number of newcomers to the country strengthens American culture and way of life, compared to 36 percent who say they are a threat. In contrast, only 22 percent of Republican seniors (age 65 or older) believe that recent immigrants strengthen American society, compared to 61 percent who say they are a threat.” However, when viewed overall, “only about one-third of Republicans (32 percent)—but majorities of independents (52 percent) and Democrats (63 percent)—say that newcomers from other countries strengthen American society.”
- 62% of Americans support immigration reform: The 62% figured cited in the survey would favor immigrants becoming citizens “provided they meet certain requirements, while 15 percent say these immigrants should be allowed to become permanent legal residents but not citizens.” According to the survey, 19% favors the identification and deportation of immigrants unauthorized to live in this country.
- When immigration reform support is categorized by party affiliation, a majority from each party still favors a path to citizenship: “A majority of Americans in both political parties support a path to citizenship, but there are notable differences in the strength of support.” 72% of Democrats favor a path to citizenship, compared to 52% of Republicans. However, the PRRI survey also reported the following: “Among young Republicans under the age of 30, support for a path to citizenship rises to 63 percent.”
- When one focuses on that responses that view immigrants as a threat, a majority of those responses still favor a path to citizenship or legal status for immigrants. “Even among Americans who believe recent immigrants are a threat, nearly half (46 percent) favor a path to citizenship, and 13 percent say they should be allowed to become permanent legal residents. However, nearly four in ten (37 percent) Americans who see immigrants as a threat say immigrants living illegally in the U.S. should be identified and deported.”
- Attitudes about immigrants vary greatly among religious views. This is what PRRI reported: “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. Roughly two-thirds (65%) of Buddhists and about six in ten religiously unaffiliated Americans (61%) and Hispanic Protestants (60%) also affirm the positive contribution immigrants make to American society. White Christians express substantially more ambivalence about immigrants. Fewer than half of Mormons (45%), white Catholics (44%), and white mainline Protestants (41%) believe immigrants strengthen the country. Roughly four in ten Mormons (38%), white Catholics (41%), and white mainline Protestants (43%) say that immigrants present a threat to American culture. White evangelical Protestants stand out as the only religious community in which a majority (53%) believe that immigrants threaten traditional American customs and values. Only about one-third (32%) of white evangelical Protestants believe newcomers from other countries benefit the U.S.”
- Attitudes about immigrants vary among geographical areas and U.S. states. “A majority of Americans living in the West (55%) and Northeast (54%) believe that newcomers from other countries provide a positive contribution to the U.S. Fewer than half of those living in the South (48%) and Midwest (46%) agree. Close to four in ten Americans living in the Midwest (38%) and South (37%) say immigrants constitute a threat to traditional American culture and values.With the exception of Wyoming, attitudes about immigrants are the most negative in the Deep South and the Appalachia region. Nearly half of residents in Wyoming (48%), Alabama (47%), and West Virginia (47%) believe that immigrants pose a threat to American culture. More than four in ten residents living in Kentucky (44%) and Arkansas (44%) also believe that immigrants represent a threat to American culture and values. Conversely, roughly six in ten Americans living in Hawaii (60%), Massachusetts (60%), California (58%), Rhode Island (58%), and New York (58%) say that immigrants are a positive influence on American society.”
You can read the entire report below. PRRI conducted 42,000 interviews between April 2015 and early January 2016.