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Public Opinion Research

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Millennials’ Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration Policies

Millennials’ Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration Policies

The Opportunity Agenda

Acknowledgments
This research was authored by Judi Lerman and edited by Eleni Delimpaltadaki Janis, Juhu Thukral, and Jason Drucker. The Opportunity Agenda’s Immigrant Opportunity initiative is funded with project support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, Four Freedoms Fund, U.S. Human Rights Fund, Oak Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy, and the Ford Foundation, with general operating support from Open Society Foundations. The statements made and views expressed are those of The Opportunity Agenda.

About The Opportunity Agenda
The Opportunity Agenda was founded in 2004 with the mission of building the national will to expand opportunity in America. Focused on moving hearts, minds, and policy over time, the organization works with social justice groups, leaders, and movements to advance solutions that expand opportunity for everyone. Through active partnerships, The Opportunity Agenda synthesizes and translates research on barriers to opportunity and corresponding solutions; uses communications and media to understand and influence public opinion; and identifies and advocates for policies that improve people’s lives. To learn more about The Opportunity Agenda, go to our website at www.opportunityagenda.org. The Opportunity Agenda is a project of Tides Center.

August 2012

Millennials’ Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration Policies

The Opportunity Agenda

Table of Contents
Executive Summary Introduction Methodology Findings
Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration
Immigrant impact on American society Immigrant integration

1 3 4 5 5 5 8 9 9 10 10 11 11 11 13 14 15 16 17

Attitudes toward Immigrant Access to Public Services
Social services In-state tuition Public schools

Attitudes toward Immigration Policies
The DREAM Act Comprehensive immigration reform Citizenship of U.S.-born children Arizona immigration law enforcement Deportation

Recommendations for Future Research Works Cited and Consulted

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Executive Summary
This memo analyzes existing public opinion research from 2006–2011 regarding attitudes of young people (18–29 years old1) toward immigrants and immigration, and how their opinions compare to the general population’s. This memo is intended to identify trends in public opinion and reveal opportunities as well as challenges to promoting pro-immigrant communications and policies among young people, often referred to as Millennials. Generally, Millennials hold a more positive view of immigrants’ impact on their communities, except with regard to the job market, and are more supportive of pro-immigrant policies than the general population. Further research and analysis is needed to determine whether or not the current generation of young people will maintain their higher level of acceptance and support for immigrants in the future.

Key findings
Millennials are significantly more supportive and accepting of immigrants than the population in general. For example, overall, just one out of two Americans thought that immigrants strengthen American society (49 percent) compared to fully 65 percent of Millennials who held that opinion.2 Millennials also more strongly oppose mass deportation of undocumented immigrants than their elders (67 percent to 56 percent).3 In addition, compared to the general population, young people tended to show greater support for: u the principle of citizenship for all American-born children as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution (73 percent to 57 percent);4 u in-state college tuition for qualified children of undocumented immigrants (57 percent to 44 percent);5 u a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (81 percent to 72 percent);6 and u the DREAM Act (66 percent to 54 percent).7 “Jobs” are the only key area where young people’s opinions were aligned with those of the general population and other age groups. Millennials agreed or felt more strongly than their elders that immigrants “threaten their jobs” or U.S. jobs in general. This perceived threat may correlate with the fact that Millennials tend to be less established in the workplace than their elders and that they entered the job market during the recent economic recession.

1 “Young people” or “Millennials” are generally defined as people born after 1980 and most frequently defined in public opinion research as 18-29 years old, which is reflected in the sample of studies we analyzed in this report. However, there are a few exceptions in the sample where the age range of young people in a survey differed by a few years, such as in a Quinnipiac survey where the range was 18-34 years old. 2 “2010 Annual Religion and Public Life Survey,” Pew Research Center, 6. 3 Jones and Cox, “Religion, Values, and Immigration Reform,” 14. 4 “Public Favors Tougher Border Controls,” Pew Research Center. 5 “Quinnipiac University National Poll, November 2011.” 6 “The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election,” Pew Research Center, 95. 7 “Slim Majority of Americans Would Vote for DREAM Act Law,” Gallup Poll.

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Millennials’ Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration Policies

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Recommendations for future research
It is important to better understand young adults and their perceptions and attitudes towards social issues, because their influence over public policies is progressively increasing. With respect to immigrants and immigration, young people are generally positive towards immigrants and their potential contributions to our society. This is an opportunity to further solidify Millennials’ pro-immigrant attitudes and translate them to positive immigration policies. More research and analysis is necessary in order to form an all-inclusive understanding of young people’s attitudes toward immigrants and immigration in the United States. Specifically, we recommend further investigation into factors that might help shape Millennials’ attitudes, such as the role of interaction with immigrants in different circumstances, for instance in the workplace or in places of worship, as well as with people of other races, ethnicities, or nationalities in general. Further, we recommend conducting additional analysis of young people’s attitudes on this topic by race, ethnicity, educational, and economic status. This is particularly important given that younger Americans are significantly more diverse as a group and include a larger proportion of immigrants than their elders. Finally, the analysis of Millennials’ attitudes would benefit from longitudinal data, which study whether and how people’s attitudes toward social issues, and immigration specifically, change as they age. This longitudinal data — longer-term tracking of opinions among a representative group — is scarce, but its acquisition and analysis is necessary in order to better understand the opportunities and barriers to inform one’s opinions throughout their adult life.

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Introduction
This memo synthesizes and analyzes public opinion research around immigration and immigrants in the United States, focusing on the views of younger people (generally 18–29 years old).8 Research shows that, in comparison to other age cohorts, younger adults are more positive about immigrants’ role in American society and are more welcoming to them. Younger people are also less anxious about the issue of immigration in general. This study sheds light on the potential of this age group, often called Millennials, to contribute to a more immigrant-friendly environment that is accepting and welcoming of immigrants and will result in good immigration policies. Millennials “are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults. They’re less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history. Their entry into careers and first jobs has been badly set back by the Great Recession, but they are more upbeat than their elders about their own economic futures as well as about the overall state of the nation. They are history’s first ‘always connected’ generation,”9 with more than eight-in-ten saying they sleep with a cell phone glowing by their bed. Millennials present an unprecedented opportunity for pro-immigrant advocates and spokespeople to connect and talk to a persuadable audience.

8 “Young people” or “Millennials” are generally defined as people born after 1980 and most frequently defined in public opinion research as 18-29 years old, which is reflected in the sample of studies we analyzed in this report. However, there are a few exceptions in the sample where the age range of young people in a survey differed by a few years, such as in a Quinnipiac survey where the range was 18-34 years old. 9 “Millennials, A Portrait of Generation Next. Confident. Connected. Open to Change.” Pew Research Center.

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Methodology
This report draws on information from more than 30 public opinion research studies conducted between 2006 and 2012 by nationally known and reputable research organizations. All of the data examined is publicly available. The studies referenced in this report meet The Opportunity Agenda’s standards and best practices for high quality and objective public opinion research, including appropriate sample size, a methodologically sound design and research instrument, and a balanced questionnaire. The studies are listed in the Appendix. The young people we refer to as Millennials are most often defined in quantitative research studies (e.g., by the Research Center, Public Religion Research Institute, Brookings Institution) as being 18–29 years of age. In a few studies (i.e., Quinnipiac University and Gallup polls), young people are defined as 18–34 years old. For the purposes of this report, both age ranges and the term “young people” will be used interchangeably. This study variously uses different terms to describe the same racial categories in an attempt to be consistent with the terminology used in each study cited. Overall, we use the racial categories applied by the federal government, which have been largely adopted by opinion researchers. The categories are defined as follows: u White: any person who self-identifies as white only and non-Hispanic u Black: any person who self-identifies as black or African American only u Hispanic: any person of any race who self-identifies as Latino or Hispanic u Asian: any person who self-identifies as Asian only Finally, the analysis of the views of different demographic groups was limited to existing public opinion research available for this study.

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Findings
Do native-born Americans think that the United States benefits from immigrants? Is immigration a positive contributor to our culture and economic success? What should become of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country? This analysis identifies young Americans’ views on these and related topics, as compared to other age cohorts. The findings of this study are presented below, organized in the following categories: u Attitudes toward immigrants and immigration u Attitudes toward immigrant access to public services u Attitudes toward immigration policies

Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration
Immigrant impact on American society
While most Americans agree that ethnic and racial diversity is good for the United States, opinions become more divided when people are asked about the type of diversity added to American society by immigrants. Researchers asked, “Has ... increasing racial and ethnic diversity been a change for the better, a change for the worse, or hasn’t this made much difference?” Fully 61 percent agreed that increased diversity was a change for the better, only 9 percent thought it was a change for the worse, and 25 percent thought it hadn’t made much difference. Here, Millennials weren’t much different from the population as a whole: 67 percent felt increased diversity was a change for the better, 7 percent said it was a change for the worse, and 25 percent felt it hadn’t made much difference. Respondents aged 30–49 (65 percent) agreed that diversity has been a change for the better, as did 58 percent of those 50–64 and 49 percent of those 65 and older.10 Sixty percent of Millennials agreed that “immigration adds to our character and strengthens the United States because it brings diversity, new workers, and new creative talent to this country” while only 33 percent said that “immigration detracts from our character and weakens the United States because it puts too many burdens on government services, causes language barriers, and creates housing problems,” in a survey question asking respondents to choose between the two statements. Contrary to the point of view of Millennials, the general population was split, with 47 percent saying immigration “adds to our character” and 44 percent saying that “immigration detracts from our character.”11 A plurality of each age group of Americans, however, think that immigrants have a negative impact on the United States. Millennials’ outlook is more optimistic than that of their elders, although still a good 42 percent of them think that immigrants have a negative impact on the country.12

10 11 12

“Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes” Pew Research Center. Murray, Mark, “On Immigration, Racial Divide Runs Deep.” Klinkner et al., “Immigration and Racial Change,” 4.

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Figure 1. Perceived imPact oF immigrants

on

united states

68% 60+ 11% 22% 58% 45-59 18% 53% 30-44 23% 25% 42% 18-29 27% 30% No impact Somewhat/very positive 25%

Somewhat/very negative

Source: Klinkner et al., “Immigration and Racial Change,” May 2011.

Younger Americans were also much more likely than their elders to see value in the growing number of immigrants in the United States. In a 2010 Pew Research Center study, 65 percent of Millennials agreed that immigrants “strengthen American society” compared to 51 percent of 30–49-year-olds, 44 percent of 50–64-year-olds, and 34 percent of those 65 and older. White and African-American Millennials equally agreed with this statement (at 62 percent) while Latino young people were more enthusiastic (75 percent). Overall, “roughly half of the general population (49 percent) saw immigrants as strengthening society while 38 percent said immigrants threaten traditional American customs and values.”13 Support for the proposition that immigrants strengthen American society dropped drastically among Millennials when they were asked to consider the impact of immigrants on jobs and resources. Forty percent said that immigrants burden the country “because they take our jobs, housing, and health care” (compared to 27 percent who said immigrants threaten American values) while 51 percent agreed that immigrants strengthen the country “because of their hard work and talents” (compared to 65 percent who agreed that immigrants strengthen American society). Millennials’ opinions on this issue reflected those of the general population: 45 percent said that immigrants burden the country “because they take our jobs, housing, and health care” compared to 42 percent who said immigrants strengthen it “because of their hard work and talents.”14

13 14

“2010 Annual Religion and Public Life Survey,” Pew Research Center, 6. “2010 Annual Religion and Public Life Survey,” Pew Research Center, 6.

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Figure 2. do immigrants

strengthen the country because oF their hard work and talents,

or burden the country because they take our jobs, housing and healthcare?

60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10%

51

55 46 39 30 42 39 42 46 45

53 39 41 41 33 43

54

59 51 52

Strengthen 2010 18-29

Burden 30-49 50-64

Strengthen 2006 65+

Burden Total

Sources: “No Consensus on Immigration Problem,” March 2006, and “2010 Annual Religion and Public Life Survey,” Pew Research Center.

Americans’ concerns about competing for jobs against immigrants is further illustrated in the Hamilton College poll which asked: “Do immigrants threaten your job or economic well-being?” There was no significant difference between young Americans and older generations on this question: 35 percent of 18–29-year-old people thought immigrants threaten their jobs or economic well-being, as did 36 percent of 30–44-year-olds, 39 percent of 45–59-year-olds, and 36 percent of those age 60 or over.15 When asked about “illegal immigration,” significantly more Millennials (34 percent) than other age cohorts were concerned about the presumed burden on jobs by “illegal” immigrants (Figure 4). Among Millennials, African Americans (48 percent) were concerned about the presumed burden of “illegal” immigration on the country more than whites (34 percent) and Hispanics (29 percent). The racial composition of those concerned about this issue among the overall population was similar: 27 percent of white respondents said “illegal immigration” hurt U.S. jobs, compared to 39 percent of African Americans and 16 percent of Hispanics. 16 Millennials’ attitudes regarding immigrants and jobs may correlate with young people’s relatively low status in the employment market, and the difficulty many of them may have had in the job market of the past few years.
Figure 3: millennials concerned “illegal immigration” hurts u.s.
jobs

African American 18-29 Hispanic 18-29 White 18-29 Total 18-29 29% 34% 29%
Source: “Public Favors Tougher Border Controls,” Pew Research Center, February 2011. 15 16 Klinkner, “Immigration and Racial Change,” 4. “Public Favors Tougher Border Controls,” Pew Research Center.

48%

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Millennials’ greater acceptance of immigrants and America’s increasing diversity in general, compared to that of their elders, is correlated with “patterns of social relations.”17 Young people were more likely to report interactions with Hispanics, African Americans, and Muslims than their most of their elders, especially people 50 years old and older. People 30 to 49 years old reported patterns of social interactions similar to those of Millennials, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. rePorting social interaction at least
once a day with selected grouPs

Daily conversation with African Americans 60% 51 49 50% 44 40% 30% 20% 10% 18-29 9

Daily conversation with Hispanics

Daily conversation with Muslims

42

41

43 37 25 17 36

8 30-49 50-64

5 65+

6 1 Total

Source: Jones, Cox, Galston, & Dionne, “What It Means to Be American,” September 2011.

Immigrant integration
When given a choice between wanting the country to do “more to enforce laws against illegal immigration” or wanting the U.S. to offer more support for helping immigrants to integrate into American society, young people were more likely to choose support for immigrants than their elders, keeping in line with the overall trend of more positive attitudes toward immigrants among young people than any other age group. Almost one out of two Millennials (48 percent) thought that supporting immigrants’ integration into the society was the right approach, compared to 37 percent of 30–44-year-olds, 25 percent of 45–59-year-olds, and 23 percent of those age 60 or over.18 At the same time, Americans question immigrants’ willingness to adapt to American society. Forty-four percent said that today’s immigrants are less willing.19 Slightly more, 49 percent, thought that today’s immigrants are about as willing (30 percent) or more willing (19 percent) to adapt into American society than immigrants of the early 1900s. Echoing these perceptions, more than 7-in-10 (72 percent) of Americans also believed immigrants mostly keep to themselves, and one out of two of the overall population (51 percent) said immigrants do not make an effort to learn English. On the latter question, Millennials had the most positive assessment, with 59 percent who said that immigrants do “make an effort to learn English.”20 The perception that immigrants do not try to learn English may be related to the increasing frequency of Americans having contact with immigrants who speak limited English or not at all. In 2006, 49 percent of Americans said that they often come in contact with immigrants, as compared to 29 percent who said so in 1993.
17 18 19 20 Jones, Cox, Galston, & Dionne, “What It Means to Be American,” 35. Klinkner, p. 6. “No Consensus on Immigration Problem.” Pew Research Center, 26. Jones, Cox, Galston & Dionne, “What it Means to Be American.”

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Figure 5. how oFten do you come in contact with immigrants

who sPeak little or no

english?

Never

Rarely

Sometimes

Often

1993

15%

30%

26%

29%

1997

17%

32%

23%

28%

2006 6%

19%

25%

49%

20%

40%

60%

80%

100%

Source: “No Consensus on Immigration,” Pew Research Center, March 2006.

In each study, the researchers followed up by asking, “When that happens, does it bother you, or not bother you?” Among those polled, consistent and growing majorities said that being in contact with immigrants whose English is severely limited does not bother them.21
Figure 6. does it bother you or not being in contact with immigrants
whose

english is severely

limited?

70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 1993 1997 2006
Source: “No Consensus on Immigration Problem,” Pew Research Center.

Does not bother

Does bother

Attitudes toward Immigrant Access to Public Services
Social services
A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll measured levels of support for a variety of social services for undocumented immigrants: public school, emergency rooms, driver licenses, food stamps, or in-state discounts on college tuition. They found that a third of voters polled nationally would deny undocumented immigrants access to any services. Among those who supported making available any or all of the services suggested, levels of support varied by service: access to emergency medical care was favored by 46 percent, followed by access to public school (40 percent), a type of limited driver’s license (22 percent), food stamps (18 percent), and in-state college tuition discounts (12 percent).22

21 22

“No Consensus on Immigration Problem,” Pew Research Center, 68. “Many Would Deny Illegal Immigrants Access,” LA Times/Bloomberg.

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One out of two Americans (48 percent) and 55 percent of Millennials believed that “the human rights of illegal immigrants are violated when they are denied access to medical care.” Support gradually decreased as the age of respondents increased, reaching a low of 42 percent among those 65 and older.23 A third poll measured support for whether immigrants should be eligible for government-provided social services (this survey did not define the services to which they were referring). Opposition to services increased by more than a two-to-one margin. Again, Millennials were more supportive of immigrants’ eligibility than their elders, but still, a significant majority opposed it.24 This indicates that when proimmigrant spokespeople advocate for immigrant access to social services, they might be more persuasive if they name each of the services rather than asking generally for government-paid services for immigrants.
80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10%
Figure 7. should immigrants be eligible For social services?

70 57 40 28 23

71

65

67

27

29

18-29

30-49 Yes

50-64 No

65+

Total

Source: “No Consensus on Immigration Problem,” Pew Research Center, March 2006.

In-state tuition
Recent polling showed a sharp divide in the country over whether immigrant children who successfully complete high school should be qualified for in-state public college tuition discounts. When asked, “Do you think an illegal immigrant who went to high school in your state and is accepted to a public college should be eligible for the in-state tuition rate, or shouldn’t they,” 48 percent of respondents thought that they should be eligible, while 46 percent thought they should not. Again, we see a divide by age grouping, where Millennials were the only segment with majority agreement on in-state tuition. Eligibility was favored by 61 percent of 18–29-year-olds, by 49 percent of 30–49-year-olds, by 45 percent of 50–64-yearolds, and by only 38 percent of those over 65.25 The Quinnipiac poll taken around the same period found 44 percent of respondents thought that undocumented students should qualify for the lower tuition, but 52 percent disagreed.26

Public schools
One area of debate and fluctuating opinion is whether to continue allowing children of undocumented immigrants to attend K-12 public schools. In a 2010 poll conducted by the Christian Science Monitor Americans were split on this issue: 47 percent in favor of providing K-12 education to immigrant children, 49 percent opposed.27 In a 2006 poll, two-thirds of respondents opposed prohibiting children

23 “Human Rights in the U.S.,” The Opportunity Agenda. 24 “No Consensus on Immigration Problem,” Pew Research Center, 22. 25 “Public Split Over In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants,” Pew Research Center, 4. 26 Question 69, “Should an illegal immigrant who graduated from a high school in your state and is accepted to a state public college qualify for the in-state college tuition, or shouldn’t they?“, on Quinnipiac’s 2011 poll yielded that response. 27 “Americans Split Over Public Education,” Christian Science Monitor.

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from attending, while one-third were in favor of the proposal.28 A 2007 survey found only 40 percent of registered voters in support of access to public schools when the question was framed as providing social services to “illegal” immigrants.29 In 2006, when asked if children of immigrants should be able to attend public schools, 71 percent said yes while 26 percent said no. In this poll, there were not any real differences of opinion among the various age cohorts.30

Attitudes toward Immigration Policies
There are a variety of specific policies related to immigration that have been debated throughout the country. Here is a brief look at several of them.

The DREAM Act
The DREAM Act (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), an incremental reform originally introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2001 and most recently passed in the U.S. House in December 2010, is supported by a majority of voters. If passed, undocumented students would be eligible to earn legal status if they came to America when they were very young, lived here for at least five years, stayed out of trouble, earned a high school diploma or GED, and completed at least two years of college or military service.31 A slim a majority of all voters (54 percent) and 66 percent of Millennials support the DREAM Act.32
Figure 8. suPPort For the dream act

For Total 65+ 50-64 35-49 18-34 10% 20% 30 30%

Against 42 43 45 44 51 50 53 66 40% 50% 60% 70% 54

Source: “Slim Majority of Americans Would Vote for DREAM Act Law,” Gallup March 2010. Findings are also supported by 2012 surveys, such as “Religion and Politics Tracking Survey,” June 2012.

Comprehensive immigration reform
Comprehensive immigration reform is most frequently defined in surveys and the public discourse as a combination of the following components: a path to citizenship for those who live in the U.S. without proper papers, and in various cases requirements for immigrants to pass background checks, pay fines, have a job, register, pay taxes, and learn English. Over the years, public opinion research has illustrated strong and consistent majority support for at least one of the aforementioned components: a path to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants already in the country. “Nearly 9-in-10 (86 percent)
28 29 30 31 32 “Two-thirds of Americans Say Children of Illegal Immigrants Should Be Allowed,” Public Agenda. “Many Would Deny Illegal Immigrants Access,” LA Times/Bloomberg Poll. “No Consensus on Immigration Problem,” Pew Research Center, 4. Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2011, S. 952, 112th Cong. 1st Sess. (2011). “Slim Majority of Americans Would Vote for DREAM Act Law,” Gallup Poll.

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Americans favor (6-in-10 strongly favor) a policy that requires ‘illegal’ immigrants to register with the government, work, pay taxes, and learn English before having the opportunity to apply for citizenship.”33 Pew Research has conducted multiple surveys examining opinions by age cohort on this issue. Respondents were asked if they are in favor of a way for undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship. As one can see from the chart below, a positive trend is seen both generally and across age groups. While young people showed the most support, the greatest movement towards support was seen among the two oldest age groups.34
Figure 9. Path to citizenshiP?

80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10%

73 75 71 76

67 51

67 70 58 58

62 65 52 53 48

57

63

58

63

68

18-29 June 2007

30-49

50-64

65+ April 2009

Total June 2010

Dec. 2007

Sources: “Mixed Views on Immigration Bill,” Pew Research Center; Keeter, “Where the Public Stands on Immigration Reform”; “Obama’s Ratings Little Affected by Recent Turmoil,” Pew Research Center.

This positive trend of support toward a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants across all age groups continued in 2011: 81 percent of Millennials (18–30 years old); 76 percent of Generation X (31–46); 68 percent of Boomers (47–65); 61 percent of the Silent Generation (over 65); and 72 percent of the total, according to another survey by the Pew Research Center.35 Overall, a slight majority (54 percent) of Americans favored granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants if “they pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs.” Again, there were significant differences between the age cohorts, with Millennials being the most supportive.36

33 Jones and Cox. “Religion, Values, and Immigration Reform,” 2. 34 “Mixed Views on Immigration Bill,” Pew Research Center; Keeter, “Where the Public Stands on Immigration Reform,”; “Growing Opposition to Increased Offshore Drilling; Obama’s Ratings Little Affected by Recent Turmoil,” Pew Research Center. 35 “The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election,” Pew Research Center. The grouping of survey respondents by age in this survey is slightly different than the grouping of the surveys shown in Figure 9. 36 “Mixed Views on Immigration Bill,” Pew Research Center, 13.

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Figure 10. grant amnesty?

70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10%

67 57

Favor

Oppose 54 39

47 36 27

48

42

47

18-29

30-49

50-64

65+

Total

Source: “Mixed Views on Immigration Bill,” Pew Research Center, June 2007.

Citizenship of U.S.-born children
The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants citizenship to all American-born children regardless of their parents’ immigration status. Overall, Americans are split on the issue of whether or not children of undocumented immigrants should indeed be granted citizenship, but survey results may partially depend on the wording of the question. Polls that specifically mention amending the Constitution garner a higher level of support for keeping it as it currently stands (Figure 12) compared to survey questions asking about changing the law. The latter question wording results in a more even split between those who want to continue to grant citizenship to American-born children of undocumented immigrants (Figure 11). Forty-eight percent of respondents to the Quinnipiac poll said that we should continue to grant citizenship to all children born in the United States while 46 percent thought that this law should be changed so that they are not automatically granted citizenship. Here again, Millennials were significantly more in favor of keeping the law as it stands.37
Figure 11. keeP or change law granting citizenshiP to american-born children oF immigrants?

70% 50% 30% 10%

Keep law 64 48 31 46

Change law 53 41 48

46

18-34

35-54

55+

Total

Source: Quinnipiac University National Poll, November 2011.

37

“Quinnipiac University National Poll, November 2011.”

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When the question is worded differently to ask whether the U.S. should “amend the Constitution” to bar citizenship for American-born children or not, instead of asking whether to “keep or change the law,” significantly more people wanted the U.S. to continue its birthright citizenship (57 percent to 39 percent). Young people’s support for leaving the Constitution as it stands was greater than any other group at 73 percent (Figure 12).38
Figure 12. amend the constitution
to bar citizenshiP to

american-born children oF immigrants?

80% 60%
46 47

18-34
66 52 50 54 54 36 42

30-49

50-64
70 58 50 56 56 47

65+

Total
73 57 39 45 50 39 39 57 57

40% 20%

33

38 30

41 41

25

Amend

Keep

Amend

Keep

Amend

Keep

March 2006

June 2010

Feb. 2011

Sources: “No Consensus on Immigration Problem,” “Obama’s Ratings Little Affected by Recent Turmoil,” “Public Favors Tougher Border Controls,” Pew Research Center.

Arizona immigration law enforcement
A majority of Americans across age groups (61 percent) supported Arizona’s recent immigration law (SB 1070) that mandates documentation, allows police to question those whom they have stopped about their immigration status, and cracks down on those who would hire or transport them. Millennials’ support for SB 1070 was more tepid (53 percent) than other groups and their opposition greater (43 percent) (Figure 13).39
Figure 13. aPProve or disaPProve
oF the

arizona immigration law?

Approve 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 18-29 30-49 50-64 53 43 33 32 64 63

Disapprove 63 61

30

34

65+

Total

Source: “Public Favors Tougher Border Controls,” Pew Research Center, February 2011.

38 39

“Public Favors Tougher Border Controls,” Pew Research Center. Ibid.

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Support or opposition for the law differed significantly between white Millennials and African-American and Hispanic Millennials, similarly to the general population. Sixty-seven percent of whites supported the law while 58 and 70 percent of African Americans and Hispanics opposed it (compared to 42 percent of African Americans and 30 of Latinos who approved).40

Deportation
More Americans opposed (56 percent) than supported (42 percent) deportation of undocumented immigrants, the policy of sending people back to their country of origin. Among Millennials, twothirds opposed deportation while only one-third supported it.41 Much of the opposition may speak to a widespread belief that wholesale deportation is unrealistic: 66 percent of Americans strongly or somewhat agreed with that belief.42

40 41 42

“Public Favors Tougher Border Controls,” Pew Research Center. Jones and Cox, “Religion, Values, and Immigration Reform,” 14. Pat Young, “DREAM Act Supported by Strong Majority.”

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The Opportunity Agenda

Recommendations for Future Research
It is important to better understand young adults and their perceptions and attitudes towards social issues, because their influence over public policies is progressively increasing. With respect to immigrants and immigration, young people are generally positive towards immigrants and their potential contributions to our society. This is an opportunity to further solidify Millennials’ pro-immigrant attitudes and translate them to positive immigration policies. More research and analysis is necessary in order to form an all-inclusive understanding of young people’s attitudes toward immigrants and immigration in the United States. Specifically, we recommend further investigation into factors that might help shape Millennials’ attitudes, such as the role of interaction with immigrants in different circumstances, for instance in the workplace or in places of worship, as well as with people of other races, ethnicities, or nationalities in general. Further, we recommend conducting additional analysis of young people’s attitudes on this topic by race, ethnicity, educational, and economic status. This is particularly important given that younger Americans are significantly more diverse as a group and include a larger proportion of immigrants than their elders. Finally, the analysis of Millennials’ attitudes would benefit from longitudinal data, which study whether and how people’s attitudes toward social issues, and immigration specifically, change as they age. This longitudinal data — longer-term tracking of opinions among a representative group — is scarce, but its acquisition and analysis is necessary in order to better understand the opportunities and barriers to inform one’s opinions throughout their adult life.

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Millennials’ Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration Policies

The Opportunity Agenda

Works Cited and Consulted
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The Opportunity Agenda

Keeter, Scott. “Where the Public Stands on Immigration Reform.” November 23, 2009. Pew Research Center. Accessed February 28, 2012. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1421/where-the-public-stands-onimmigration-reform. Klinkner, Philip A., Colleen Callaghan, Caroline Epstein, James Grebey, Margaret Kremer, et al. “Immigration and Racial Change: Are All Generations On The Same Page? A Survey of Attitudes toward Race, Immigration, and Ethnicity,” Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York. Survey, May 12, 2011. Accessed March 8, 2012. http://www.hamilton.edu/documents/ HamiltonCollegeSurvey-Attitudes-toward-Race-Immigration-and-Ethnicity.pdf. Lake, Celina, David Mermin, & Zach Young/Lake Research Partners. “Findings from a Survey of 800 Registered Voters Nationwide, with an Oversample of 300 Latino Registered Voters.” Last modified May 2010. Accessed February 28, 2012. http://amvoice.3cdn.net/ed19366f359576c518_tcm6ini0a.pdf. “Many Would Deny Illegal Immigrants Access to Basic Social Services But Path to Citizenship Still Finding Wide Support.” Poll, Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg. December 5, 2007. Accessed March 15, 2012. http://www.latimes.com/media/acrobat/2007-12/34119655.pdf. “Millennials, A Portrait of Generation Next. Confident. Connected. Open to Change.” Pew Research Center. February 2010. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/02/24/millennials-confident-connectedopen-to-change. “Mixed Views on Immigration Bill.” Survey, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. June 7, 2007. Accessed February 28, 2012. http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/335.pdf. Murray, Mark. “On Immigration, Racial Divide Runs Deep.” NBC News. May 26, 2010. Accessed March 30, 2012. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37344303/ns/us_news-immigration_a_nation_divided. “National Survey of Voter Attitudes on Immigration Reform.” Poll, Manhattan Institute. March 26-28, 2006. Accessed March 12, 2012. http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/ImmigrationPresentation.pdf. “No Consensus on Immigration Problem or Proposed Fixes: America’s Immigration Quandary.” Survey, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press/Pew Hispanic Center. March 30, 2006. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.pewhispanic.org/files/reports/63.pdf. Public Discourse on Immigration in 2010: An Analysis of Print and Broadcast Media Coverage and Web 2.0 Discourse in 2010: A Meta-Analysis of Public Opinion Research, The Opportunity Agenda. March 2011. Accessed April 2, 2010. http://opportunityagenda.org/files/field_file/Public%20Discourse%20 on%20Immigration%20in%202010%20-%20DIGITAL.pdf. “Public Favors Tougher Border Controls and Path to Citizenship: Most Oppose Ending ‘Birthright Citizenship,’” Survey, Pew Research Center. February 24, 2011. Accessed February 21, 2012. http:// pewresearch.org/pubs/1904/poll-illegal-immigration-border-security-path-to-citizenship--birthrightcitizenship-arizona-law. “Religion and Politics Tracking Survey,” Public Religion Research Institute. June 2012. “Public Split Over In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants: Illegal Immigration: Gaps Between and Within Parties,” Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. December 6, 2011. Accessed February 27, 2012. http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/12-6-11%20Immigration%20Release.pdf. “Public Support for the DREAM Act,” Poll, First Focus/Opinion Research Corporation. June 10-13, 2010. http://www.firstfocus.net/library/polling-and-opinion-research/public-support-for-the-dream-act.

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The Opportunity Agenda

“Religion and the Issues: Few Say Religion Shapes Immigration, Environment Views: Results from the 2010 Annual Religion and Public Life Survey,” Pew Research Center for the People & the Press/Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. September 17, 2010. Accessed March 15, 2012. http://www.pewforum. org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Issues/Politics_and_Elections/immigration-environment-views-fullreport.pdf. Singer, P.W., Heather Messera, & Brendan Orino. “D.C.’s New Guard: What Does the Next Generation of American Leaders Think?” Foreign Policy at Brookings. February 2011. Accessed March 8, 2012. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2011/02_young_leaders_singer/02_young_leaders_ singer.pdf. “Slim Majority of Americans Would Vote for DREAM Act Law.” Poll, Gallup. December 10, 2010. Accessed March 19, 2012. www.gallup.com/poll/145136/slim-majority-americans-vote-dream-act-law. aspx?version=print. “Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2009: Independents Take Center Stage in Obama Era.” Survey, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. May 21, 2009. http://www.people-press. org/files/legacy-pdf/517.pdf. “Two-thirds of Americans Say Children of Illegal Immigrants Should Be Allowed to Attend U.S. Public Schools.” Pie chart. Public Agenda. August 28, 2009. Accessed March 15, 2012. http://www.publicagenda. org/charts/two-thirds-americans-say-children-illegal-immigrants-should-be-allowed-attend-us-publicschools. “U.S. Voters Say Super Committee Will Fail to Cut Debt, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Occupy Wall Street Less Unpopular than Tea Party.” Quinnipiac University. November 3, 2011. Accessed March 5, 2012. http://www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes-and-centers/polling-institute/national/releasedetail?ReleaseID=1670. Young, Pat. “Poll-DREAM Act Supported by Strong Majority,” Poll, New York State Immigrant Action Fund/Lake Research Partners. November 15, 2010. Accessed March 19, 1012. http://nysiaf. org/2010/11/15/poll-dream-act-supported-by-strong-majority.

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