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Public Agenda Study Gathers Current Immigrant Experience

“Now That I’m Here: What America’s Immigrants Have to Say About Life in the U.S. Today,” a new study from Public Agenda, reveals current immigrant attitudes toward America.

“Now That I’m Here: What America’s Immigrants Have to Say About Life in the U.S. Today,” a new study from Public Agenda, reveals current immigrant attitudes toward America.

Eighty percent of immigrants said the United States was “a unique country that stands for something special in the world.” The same amount said that if they had to choose where to live all over again, they would still choose the United States.

According to Public Agenda, just two percent said they were generally disappointed with life in America.

Following Sept. 11, Americans started taking a closer look at their neighbors. And many immigrants said the events changed their lives.

About 50 percent said the government was now stricter about enforcing immigration laws, and 61 percent believed there was some anti-immigrant discrimination in the United States.

Eighteen percent felt there was a “great deal” of discrimination against immigrants following Sept. 11. Fifty-nine percent said the discrimination was more widely felt by non-white immigrants.

Whatever problems immigrants may have faced in the United States, 88 percent said that America was better than their own country when it came to “having more opportunity to earn a good living.”

Immigrants also favor the United States when it comes to women’s rights (68 percent), “having a legal system you can trust” (67 percent) and having “an honest government” (62 percent).

Most immigrants support learning English. Sixty-five percent said “the U.S. should expect all immigrants who don’t speak English to learn it.” Sixty-three percent of immigrants said public school classes should be taught in English rather than catering to immigrants’ native tongues.

Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of immigrants said they planned on staying in the United States.

However, many immigrants still maintain strong ties to their home countries, with 59 percent regularly phoning family and friends in their home country and 44 percent sending money back to relatives.

Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.