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America's Welcome Mat Is Wearing Thin


Cover Story: Business Week/Harris Poll

AMERICA'S WELCOME MAT IS WEARING THIN

Most Americans are uneasy about immigrants. While a majority think immigration was once a good thing, they now believe it's harming the country. The public worries that new arrivals take away jobs, drive down wages, and use too many government services. But forget the conventional wisdom about black resentment of immigrants: Even though 73% of blacks believe businesses would rather hire immigrants, blacks in general feel more positively toward immigrants than do nonblacks.

FEELING THE INFLUX

Compared to other times in our history, would you say there are more immigrants coming to the U.S. now, fewer immigrants, or about the same number as before? All respondents

More 64%

Fewer 11%

Same 21%

Not sure 4%

PAST BENEFITS

Overall, over our history do you think immigration has been good or bad for this country?

All respondents

Good 59%

Bad 35%

Neither 3%

Not sure 3%

PRESENT DANGERS

Right now, do you think immigration is good or bad for this country? Nonblacks Blacks

Good 26% 40%

Bad 69% 53%

Neither 2% 6%

Not sure 3% 1%

LESSEN THE FLOW

In the 1990s, would you like to see this country admit more, fewer, or about the same number of immigrants as were admitted in the 1980s?

Nonblacks Blacks

More 3% 12%

Fewer 62% 47

Same 31% 34%

Not sure 4% 7%

BOON OR BURDEN?

Now I'd like to read you a series of statements about immigration in this country. For each statement, please tell me if you agree or disagree.

Nonblacks Blacks

Agree Dis- Not Agree Dis- Not

agree sure agree sure

New immigrants take jobs away from American workers

62% 37% 1% 63% 34% 3%

A lot of immigrants bring needed skills to this country

49% 49% 2% 60% 34% 6%

New immigrants joining the labor force drive down wages

66% 32% 2% 61% 36% 3%

Many new immigrants are very hard-working

83% 15% 2% 87% 10% 3%

Immigrants use more than their fair share of government services, such as welfare, medical care, and food stamps

62% 32% 6% 59% 34% 7%

A lot of immigrants start new businesses, which helps the U.S. economy grow

55% 40% 5% 67% 29% 4%

Immigration makes race relations in our cities worse

61% 35% 4% 43% 52% 5%

ON THE HIRING LINE

Which do you think businesses prefer to hire--immigrants or black Americans?

Nonblacks Blacks

Immigrants 49% 73%

Black Americans 30% 15%

Makes no difference 6% 5%

Not sure 15% 7%

BILINGUAL DILEMMA

In areas where there are a lot of non-English-speaking immigrants, do you think public schools should or should not offer education in their language?

Nonblacks Blacks

Should offer 43% 77%

Should not offer 56% 20%

Not sure 1% 3%

PRICE OF ADMISSION

Should immigrants who have education and skills be favored for admission to this country over those immigrants with less education and skills or not?

Nonblacks Blacks

Immigrants with education and skills should

be favored for admission 47% 36%

Not favored 48% 59%

Not sure 5% 5%

THE DREAM LIVES ON

Is the American dream of middle-class prosperity still a realistic goal for new immigrants or not?

All respondents

American dream still realistic 56%

Not realistic 39%

Not sure 5%

Survey of 1,418 adults, including 246 blacks, conducted June 10-14, 1992, for BUSINESS WEEK by Louis Harris & Associates Inc. Results should be accurate to within 3 percentage points, except that results for the smaller sample of blacks should be accurate to within 7 percentage points.Edited by Christopher Power


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