Unfortunately, many think Americans are against increased immigration, more immigration visas, and immigration reform – perhaps because they fear immigrants do not embrace American values and American culture. However, a new study by a noted political science professor has found that the majority of white Americans are not anti-immigrant – and that immigrants themselves do in fact assimilate into American culture, even as they preserve their own.
Deborah Schildkraut, an associate professor of political science at Tufts University, conducted a 144-question telephone survey of 2,800 Americans across the country – including residents of all races, all backgrounds, and various immigration statuses. She published her findings in a new book, Americanism in the Twenty-First Century: Public Opinion in the Age of Immigration.
What she found was surprising: the majority of white Americans do not disapprove or look down on immigrants as many assume, but rather applaud their pursuit of the American Dream. At the same time, recent immigrants generally agreed that identifying as American was important, as was loving freedom, pursing economic stability for their families, and embracing other American ideas. In fact, both original residents and immigrants shared very similar views on American ideals. The only difference? Immigrants were and first-generation Americans continued to embrace their old culture and their old traditions even as they added American culture to their lives.
Why do many wrongly believe that most white Americans are anti-immigration? Schildkraut believes that it may simply be because anti-immigration groups are more vocal and more organized than the quieter majority.