The inscription on the Statue of Liberty reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…”. These lines were intended to give hope to immigrants from around the world, traveling to America in search of a brighter future.
In recent years, however, attitudes have shifted dramatically. There is a growing opinion that immigrants will drain the U.S. economy and steal American jobs. Anti-immigrant voices on Capitol Hill are also getting louder. Virtually every week, we see new policies designed to deter immigrants from entering the country.
It may be surprising, then, to learn that amidst this public anti-immigrant sentiment, most Americans are still in favor of certain types of immigration.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center has found that 78 percent of all Americans support the immigration of highly skilled adults to the U.S. This is due to an understanding that highly skilled workers represent an advantage to the U.S.—boosting our economy and allowing us to stay a global leader. Support is particularly high among young adults, highly educated adults and high-income adults.
It’s worth noting that even among Americans who favor immigration reduction, 63 percent of this group still supports the immigration of highly skilled workers.
Currently, 36 percent of all U.S. immigrants have at least one advanced degree. In fact, there are more college-educated immigrants in the U.S. than in any other country—14.7 million as of 2015. This means that 78 percent of all Americans—on both sides of the political aisle—are in favor of nearly 15 million immigrants who currently reside in the U.S.
The findings of this study are hopeful. They show that—even during this highly divisive period in U.S. history—the immigration issue isn’t black and white. It suggests that there is room for mutual acceptance and understanding.