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Despite Trump crackdown, Americans still positive toward immigration – Baptist News Global

Despite drastic reductions in legal immigration to the United States under the Trump administration, Americans continue to express positive attitudes about immigrants and the benefits of welcoming these newcomers.

New data from Gallup finds the United States among the “most-accepting countries in the world for migrants.” The study found only five other countries where citizens expressed more welcoming attitudes than Americans. Canada tops that list.

Since 2016, Gallup has asked respondents in 140 countries whether they think migrants living in their country, becoming their neighbors and marrying into their families are good things or bad things. The same questions have been asked in 2016, 2017 and again in 2019.

Nine in 10 Americans said a migrant living in their neighborhood would be a good thing.

Nine in 10 Americans said a migrant living in their neighborhood would be a good thing, while 87% said migrants living in their country would be good and 85% said immigrants marrying into their families would be good.

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Politics versus reality

This data stands in stark contrast to the message of the Trump administration, which not only has campaigned against the threat of illegal immigration but at the same time has reduced legal immigration to record-low levels.

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Gallup found a correlation between political views and acceptance of migrants into the U.S., but not to the level that might be expected based on the posturing of politicians.

Americans who approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance are less likely to express welcoming attitudes toward migrants than those who disapprove of the president. However, even those who approve of the administration’s policies still poll positively on welcoming migrants at a 7.1 index level out of Gallup’s 9-point scale. That compares to an 8.59 index rating for those who disapprove of Trump.

Another factor Gallup identified as a predictor of acceptance of migrants is whether a person identifies most with the city or country where they live rather than primarily identifying with their race or religion.

Also, Americans’ acceptance of migrants is higher among those with the most education and among those living in urban areas. Acceptance also is highest among younger Americans and drops off increasingly with age. This differs from Canada, where no statistical differences are noted by age.

The Gallup data largely mirror new data from Pew Research, which found “immigrants are seen more as a strength than a burden to the country.”

“Overall, a majority of Americans have positive views about immigrants,” the Pew report states. “About two-thirds of Americans (66%) say immigrants strengthen the country ‘because of their hard work and talents,’ while about a quarter (24%) say immigrants burden the country by taking jobs, housing and health care.”

As with the Gallup data, Pew also noted differences based on political leanings.

As with the Gallup data, Pew also noted differences based on political leanings.

“Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 88% think immigrants strengthen the country with their hard work and talents, and just 8% say they are a burden. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 41% say immigrants strengthen the country, while 44% say they burden it.”

Dramatic drop in legal immigration

Under the Trump administration, legal immigration to the U.S. has dropped dramatically.

“By next year, Donald Trump will have reduced legal immigration by 49% since becoming president,” noted a recent report in Forbes. “That will have significant repercussions for the nation’s economic growth.”

Actual legal immigration to the U.S. in 2016 was 1,183,505 people; that number is projected to drop to 601,660 in 2021, a 49% reduction.

“By next year, Donald Trump will have reduced legal immigration by 49% since becoming president.”

About one-third of Americans believe legal immigration levels should be increased, according to the Pew polling, and only one-fourth believe legal immigration should be reduced even further.

Who are America’s immigrants?

“The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world,” the Pew report explains. “Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants. The population of immigrants is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented.”

And despite the crackdown, the foreign-born population in America reached record levels in 2018, with 44.8 million foreign-born residents nationwide. Since 1965, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. has more than quadrupled.

“Immigrants today account for 13.7% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.8%) in 1970. However, today’s immigrant share remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S.,” the report notes.

Who these immigrants are and where they’re coming from might also surprise the average citizen. Among new immigrant arrivals, Asians outnumber Hispanics, Pew reports. “In 2018, the top country of origin for new immigrants coming into the U.S. was China, with 149,000 people, followed by India (129,000), Mexico (120,000) and the Philippines (46,000).”

Further, “more Asian immigrants than Hispanic immigrants have arrived in the U.S. in most years since 2009. Immigration from Latin America slowed following the Great Recession, particularly for Mexico, which has seen both decreasing flows into the United States and large flows back to Mexico in recent years.”

Asians are projected to become the largest immigrant group in the U.S. by 2055. Pew estimates that by 2065, those who identify as Asian will account for 38% of all immigrants.

Also, despite the perception of political rhetoric, “most immigrants (77%) are in the country legally, while almost a quarter are unauthorized,” Pew reports. In 2017, 45% of all immigrants living in the United States were naturalized U.S. citizens.

“From 1990 to 2007, the unauthorized immigrant population more than tripled in size — from 3.5 million to a record high of 12.2 million in 2007. By 2017, that number had declined by 1.7 million, or 14%. There were 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2017, accounting for 3.2% of the nation’s population.”

That decline in unauthorized immigrant population was due mainly to a drop in immigration from Mexico, which produced the single largest group of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. Between 2007 and 2017, this group decreased by 2 million, Pew notes.

Among immigrants who come to the U.S. as recognized refugees, more than half in 2019 came from Congo and Burma. In that year, 30,000 refugees were resettled in America. Top countries of origin beyond Congo and Burma were Ukraine, Eritrea and Afghanistan.

Among all refugees admitted in 2019, only 16% identified as Muslims while 79% identified as Christians.

Overall, 45% of the nation’s immigrants live in three states: California (24%), Texas (11%) and Florida (10%).

 

Related articles:

Evangelical leader: Trump’s refugee limit ‘dramatic and heartbreaking’

On immigration, Franklin Graham is dead wrong

What I’ve learned from race conversations with refugees and immigrants

 

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