A Mixed Verdict on Immigration

Conventional wisdom says young people are more likely than their elders to have positive opinions about the high levels of immigration to the U.S. in recent years. True though that may be, it’s also the case that many young adults have mixed feelings about the matter.

In a survey of 18-24-year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, 45 percent of respondents agreed that immigrants “strengthen our country by increasing its cultural diversity,” vs. 27 percent disagreeing. (The rest neither agreed nor disagreed). And 63 percent agreed (vs. 12 percent disagreeing) that “Allowing immigration is a core American value dating back to the founding of the nation.” Also on the plus side, 49 percent agreed (while 26 percent disagreed) that “Immigrants strengthen our country by providing a key labor source to the American economy.”

However, respondents were more likely to agree than to disagree (49 percent vs. 27 percent) that immigrants “burden American schools, government facilities and other similar institutions by failing to learn English.” And they were slightly more likely to agree than to disagree (38 percent vs. 34 percent) that immigrants “are a burden to the economy because they take jobs, housing and healthcare from other Americans.” On the matter of whether immigration “threatens America by allowing potential criminals or terrorists into the country,” more agreed than disagreed (39 percent vs. 34 percent) that this is the case.