Most Immigrants Still Intent on Making U.S. Their Permanent Home, Report Finds

Despite the recession and renewed national security concerns in a post-9/11 world, most immigrants have held fast to the belief that the United States is the land of opportunity and remain committed to becoming U.S. citizens, a new report from finds.

Funded by the , the report, (76 pages, PDF), is based on a survey conducted in May of some 1,100 foreign-born adults in the United States. A follow-up to a similar survey conducted in 2002, the report found that most respondents rated the United States as better than their birth country for earning a good living (88 percent), having a trusted legal system (70 percent), making good health care available (67 percent), having a good education system (62 percent), being a good place to raise children (55 percent), and allowing free speech (55 percent). While 71 percent of respondents said they intend to make the United States their permanent home and that, given the chance, they would do it all over again, that figure was down nine percentage points from 2002.

The number of respondents who said there is some or a great deal of discrimination against immigrants in the United States has held steady at 62 percent. However, the number of respondents who said they have experienced much discrimination personally fell from 29 percent in 2002 to 25 percent in 2009. Since 2002, the number of people who gave positive ratings to federal immigration officials rose from 48 percent to 58 percent among those who had dealings with them.

In addition, some 72 percent of respondents said that the government should offer a path to citizenship — a way for illegal immigrants with no criminal record and who have shown a commitment to the United States to become citizens — while 84 percent support and 61 percent strongly favor a guest worker program.

"Immigrants infuse our society with energy, talent, and renewed belief in our cherished institutions, the Constitution, the importance of an impartial justice system, and participatory democracy," said Carnegie Corporation president Vartan Gregorian. "Their vitality, resilience, determination, and the vibrant diversity they offer nourishes us all."

"." Public Agenda Press Release 09/09/2009.