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PDF A Place to Call Home: What Immigrants Say Now About Life in America

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Because we surveyed both cell phone owners and landline households, we were able to capture the perspectives of undocumented immigrants as well. Just as importantly, we can now see trend data on how immigrants view a tumultuous period in history.

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The past seven years have seen ferocious debate over immigration, even as legislation has remained stalled. The United States admits more than 1 million immigrants a year, and the Census Bureau reports 12 percent of the population is foreign-born at In addition, there are an estimated 12 million illegal or undocumented immigrants in the country. While attempts to change immigration laws have failed, they've also kept the issue at the forefront of public debate. Employers who hire illegal immigrants are under increased pressure from the federal government to comply with existing laws, and a number of state and local governments have enacted their own laws to restrict services to immigrants without documents.

All this has led to a fever-pitch debate over how the country should deal with immigration. One thing that is clear from our research, and probably comforting to both sides of the immigration debate: They rate the United States as an improvement over their birthplace in almost all dimensions, and most say they expect their children to remain in this country.

History of Immigration in the US for Dummies

This sense of having made the right decision cuts across all groups, regardless of income, immigration status or ethnic group. Despite much rhetoric and a number of well-publicized incidents, many immigrants report that discrimination and government harassment aren't a major part of their daily lives. Government immigration officials get higher ratings now than they did in our survey. Most immigrants, in fact, say they fit in to American life quickly, even as their ties to their birth country seem to have grown stronger.

More immigrants say they phone home and send money regularly compared to , and half of the immigrants we surveyed say they mostly spend time with others from their birth country, a significant increase from seven years ago.

A Place to Call Home: What immigrants say now about life in America | Amber Nichole Ott

Immigrants say the biggest problem they face right now is also the biggest problem facing the rest of the country: Not only do more than 6 in 10 immigrants say the economy is the most important problem for the country but financial concerns seem to be playing a much greater role in their attitudes. Almost all still say that the United States is a better place than their birth country for earning a living, but more also cite finding a job and securing government assistance as major reasons to pursue citizenship.

No wonder, then, that their overall happiness has diminished. So as the debate renews on immigration reform, what do immigrants want? What path do they believe the nation should take? For immigrants, there are several overarching themes for reform.

A Place to Call Home: What immigrants say now about life in America

Perhaps not surprisingly, immigrants support new measures to bring illegal or undocumented immigrants more firmly into the mainstream. As a whole, however, immigrants back some method of bringing illegal immigrants into society. This report was based on six focus groups and a national telephone survey of 1, foreign-born adults.


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The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent, although the margin is higher when comparing subgroups. There are plenty of methodological hurdles intrinsic to interviewing this population. As in our prior study , we limited our definition of immigrants to people born outside the United States and, in order to capture their recollections of coming to America, we excluded anyone who emigrated under 5 years of age.

This report was based on six focus groups and a national landline and cellular telephone survey of 1, foreign-born adults, although it excluded anyone who emigrated under 5 years of age. Respondents were given the opportunities to participate in either English or Spanish.

The random sample survey was also supplemented with lists of smaller ethnic groups, including Middle Easterners, South and East Asians, and Central and South Americans.

Readx3a A Place to Call Home

The project was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Click here to download curriculum vitae as a PDF. Home Experience Publications Contact. What immigrants say now about life in America On 9 September


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