This report describes major trends in U.S. public opinion that are directly relevant to the policy dispute over immigration occurring right now. Regardless of one's preferences on immigration, we all need to pay better attention to what the American public says. To help us to do so is the primary purpose of this report. To date there has been a substantial gap between what the public says that it wants concerning immigration and what it has instead received from public policy, especially related to illegal immigration. This is not healthy in a democracy.
"What the U.S. Public Thinks about Immigration" is divided into two broad sections. The first concerns attitudes toward immigration, the second details attitudes about possible reforms. The scope is broad, including subjects such as historical trends in immigration both legal and illegal, assessment of the impact of immigration on the jobs and wages of legal residents, evaluation of whether immigration is a burden on government programs and services, as well as trends in public opinion on these and other related topics. Some two dozen graphics present visual summaries of the considerable evidence provided. The report concludes that the implications of these findings for successful comprehensive immigration reform at this time demonstrate the greater feasibility of legalized status for illegal/undocumented immigrants as opposed to a path to citizenship.
Charles Brockett has a PhD in political science and several decades experience teaching this subject in courses both on American and Latin American politics. He has written two well-received books on Central America and is the co-editor of two collections concerning immigration and citizenship in the United States. Although "What the U.S. Public Thinks about Immigration" is deeply grounded in the relevant research, it is written for policymakers, an interested general audience, and classroom use.
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