Studies: Immigrants Worldwide Staying Put, Those in U.S. Still "Buying Into the American Dream"

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Immigrants worldwide “are overwhelmingly choosing to stay put in their adopted countries, rather than return home,” in the face of the economic crisis, and those in the U.S. continue to “strongly buy into the American Dream,” said a couple of reports released this week.

Migration and the Global Recession, published Tuesday, done by the Migration Policy Institute for the BBC World Service, reported that “some migration flows, particularly illegal migration, are … down as would-be migrants are being deterred by reduced job prospects in countries that would previously have offered them better opportunities.”

At the same time, A Place to Call Home, released Wednesday by the non-profit group Public Agenda, said that “despite the worst economic crisis in decades, renewed national security concerns in a post-9/11 world and an immigration policy many consider to be broken, …immigrants themselves hold fast to their belief that America remains the land of opportunity and remain committed to becoming U.S. citizens.”

“Seven in ten immigrants say they would do it all over again,” said Scott Bittle, Public Agenda’s executive vice president in a conference call with reporters. “Most say they made the right choice (in migrating.)”

The MPI study looked at major migration flows worldwide, including the U.S.-Mexico, U.K.-Eastern Europe, Spain-Romania and Spain-Morocco; and “Gulf State flows from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines.” It confirmed at a global level what other studies have said about the U.S. in particular: that immigrants have preferred to stay in their destination countries during the economic downturn, rather than go back home to brave conditions there.

“…counter to some widely held public perceptions, immigrants overwhelmingly are choosing to stay put in their adopted countries rather than return home despite higher unemployment and lack of jobs.”

[ Migration Slowing as Recession Bites

– MPI press release ]

BBC reporter Andrew Walker added,

“Fewer people are moving abroad for work but those who are already abroad are, for the most part, staying put.

“And in general, money sent by migrants to their families in their home country, has declined.”

– BBC World Service ]

In the U.S., the Public Agenda survey showed, immigrants are mostly content with their decision to move to the U.S. and most adapt quickly to American society, Bittle said.

The study also showed that immigrants’ “concerns about discrimination have held stable since 2002,” when a previous survey was conducted, he added. Only about a quarter of those interviewed said they had experienced some form of discrimination personally.

However, Bittle said, Mexicans and other Latin Americans were “more likely to perceive discrimination in American society.”

The study said,

“Three-quarters of Mexican immigrants say there’s at least ‘some’ discrimination against immigrants in the United States, compared with 57 percent of other immigrants.”

[ Public Agenda press release ]

Despite that perception, Bittle explained that Mexicans are not more likely to experience discrimination personally than other immigrants.

Muslim immigrants, in turn, were less likely to perceive discrimination, with 64% saying they see little or no discrimination.

The survey by Public Agenda seemed to support the MPI study, since it showed that seven out of every ten immigrants “intend to make the U.S. their permanent home,” Bittle said.

AboutDiego Graglia
Diego Graglia is a bilingual multimedia journalist who has worked at major media outlets in the U.S. and Latin America. He is currently the editor-in-chief at Expansion, Meixco’s leading business magazine.