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Immigration in America: Survey Overview

Immigrants arrive at Ellis Island in Manhattan, N.Y., in May 1920. Corbis hide caption

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Americans are less negative about immigration than they have been in several years, according to a new poll by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. The poll, conducted May 27-Aug. 2, 2004, also shows that native-born Americans who have more contact with immigrants express more positive views toward them than those who have less contact. But overall, many non-immigrants believe immigrants may be changing the nature of the country in a way of which they do not approve. Non-immigrant Americans reserve their most negative views for illegal immigrants; they don't think the government has been tough enough on immigration, and they would like the government to spend more to tighten the borders. Immigration is not a particularly partisan issue, but there is stronger opposition of than support for a key reform proposed by President Bush.

Immigrants themselves differ from non-immigrants in many ways in their attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy. They are clear that economic opportunities and legal rights are better in the United States than in their countries of origin, but they are less certain about some cultural matters. In many cases, Mexican and Central and South American immigrants have significantly different opinions from other immigrants.

On most matters relating to immigrants and immigration policy, the American-born children of immigrants are indistinguishable from other non-immigrants.

At left, you'll find links for a complete written summary of the findings and for the summary presented as a series of charts. The questionnaire is also available, as is a detailed methodology.

Immigration in America