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Asset or Burden: How Americans View Immigrants
Joanna Piacenza,
Topics: Immigration

Immigration reform remains in the headlines this week, as House Republicans continue to fight President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Using new American Values Atlas (AVA) data, we’ve already revealed how each state feels about immigration reform—but how do Americans feel immigrants are impacting society?

Overall, a majority (55 percent) of Americans say immigrants today strengthen our country through their hard work and talents, while 36 percent say immigrants today are a burden because they take our jobs, housing, and healthcare. But opinion differs sharply from state to state: while a majority of residents in 30 states hold more positive views of immigrants, less than half of residents in 18 states hold this positive view.

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One notable pattern is that states that have a longer history of immigrants living and working in their communities tend to have more positive views about their economic impact. Residents of California (67 percent), Hawaii (65 percent), New York (62 percent), Texas (59 percent), and Florida (58 percent) are more likely to say that immigrants strengthen our country through their hard work and talents.

Northeast residents are also more likely to value immigrants’ economic contributions: New Jersey (61 percent), Massachusetts (58 percent), New Hampshire (58 percent), and Rhode Island (55 percent) residents say immigrants strengthen the U.S. Midwesterners are more divided, with less than half of residents in states such as Oklahoma (47 percent) and Missouri (47 percent) saying immigrants are having a positive economic impact.

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Explore more of the AVA here—to learn about Americans in different states, regions and metro area feels about immigrants and immigration reform policy.

You can also read through our 50-state reference guides on immigration reform, views of immigrants, same-sex marriage, and availability and legality of abortion.