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Despite politics, Americans’ view of immigrants has softened

Friday, December 16, 2016

A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Markle Foundation found that, compared to the results of a similar 2006 survey, Americans are taking a softer view of immigration’s impact on native-born workers.
In 2006, 55 percent of Americans surveyed felt that the growing number of immigrants was harmful for American workers. A decade later, only 45 percent of respondents believe that immigration hurts U.S. workers. Conversely, almost 42 percent of this year’s survey respondents think that immigration is beneficial to the U.S. workforce. This figure represents a 14 percent increase over the 2006 survey, in which only 28 percent of those surveyed had a positive view of immigration.
While Americans’ perspectives on the impact immigration has on the U.S. workforce are close to evenly split, a majority of business leaders and economists believe that immigration’s effects on the U.S. economy are more beneficial that not.
Study after study has demonstrated the positive effects of immigration on the U.S. economy, from revitalizing rural areas to business startups and filling Social Security and Medicare coffers to the benefit of today’s retirees. In light of this research, it is not surprising that Americans’ positive perception of immigrants has heightened over the past 10 years.
What is surprising, however, is how politically polarized such perception of immigrants has become. Polarization of attitudes toward immigrants has become particularly clear during this year’s election cycle, in which anti-immigration rhetoric has been used in an attempt to rally voters. Among Democrats surveyed in 2016, nearly 60 percent said they think that immigration is helpful to U.S. workers. This is almost double the 30 percent of democrats who felt the same way in 2006.
Among Republicans, 54 percent believe that increased immigration is harmful to American workers. This is an increase over the 48 percent of Republicans who took the negative view in 2006.
Despite the gap in perception between Democrats and Republicans, it is clear that the truth is far different from the “reality” that 2016 political candidates would have us believe. Immigration is good for the U.S., and a growing number of Americans are beginning to see the facts for what they are.

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