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TABLE 8.8 Attitudes Toward the Current Level of Immigration, by Education Level, 1995 Gallup Polls (percentage)
Level of Immigration Preferred
Less than high school
High school graduate
Source: Pooled data from Gallup polls taken in June and July 1995. The question asked was, "In your view, should immigration be kept at its present level, increased, or decreased?"
with graduate education, a majority of whom do not want to see immigration decreased.22
Blacks and Hispanics have more favorable attitudes toward immigration than do non-Hispanic whites: 68 percent of non-Hispanic whites favored decreasing immigration in the polls we analyzed, compared with 57 percent of blacks and 50 percent of Hispanics.23 These differences in attitudes on the part of Hispanics may be explained by their cultural ties to the large numbers of prospective immigrants from Latin America. 24 However, racial differences in attitudes are harder to explain. The data we presented earlier that indicate that blacks in general do not live near immigrants may be relevant.
Some immigrants appear to be more welcome than others. Americans generally indicate a preference for European immigrants, and immigrants from Asia in turn are generally rated more favorably than are those from Latin America (Espenshade and Belanger, 1996). At the same time, Americans also attributed positive characteristics to both Asian and Latin American immigrants: both groups were seen by a majority of Americans as hard-working and having strong family values (Espenshade and Belanger, 1996).
In the more detailed analysis in the appendix, at the national level only those with graduate education differ significantly from others in their attitudes toward immigration once we control for other characteristics. Within the immigration states, there are larger differences associated with education, and those without a high school degree are indeed most opposed to immigration. However, their attitudes never differ significantly from those of high school graduates.
Our polling data do not identify Asians, but others have found that Asians also generally have more favorable attitudes toward immigration (Espenshade and Hempstead, 1996; Espenshade, 1997).
These data include information on ethnicity but do not identify the foreign-born, so differences associated with the two factors cannot be disentangled from one another.