Sep 30, 2015 1:00 pm

How U.S. immigration laws and rules have changed through history

The United States began regulating immigration soon after it won independence from Great Britain, and the laws since enacted have reflected the politics and migrant flows of the times. Early legislation tended to impose limits that favored Europeans, but a sweeping 1965 law opened doors to immigrants from other parts of the world. In more recent years, laws and presidential actions have been shaped by concerns about refugees, unauthorized immigration and terrorism.

A 1790 law was the first to specify who could become a citizen, limiting that privilege to free whites of “good moral character” who had lived in the U.S. for at least two years. In 1870, the right of citizenship was extended to those of African origin.

Starting in 1875, a series of restrictions on immigration were enacted. They included bans on criminals, people with contagious diseases, polygamists, anarchists, beggars and importers of prostitutes. Other restrictions targeted the rising number of Asian immigrants, first limiting migration from China and later banning immigration from most Asian countries. Read More

Topics: Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Immigration Trends

Sep 30, 2015 11:00 am

On views of immigrants, Americans largely split along party lines

When it comes to how Americans view the impact of immigration on U.S. society and life, there’s a big partisan gap – a gap once again reflected in the nation’s politics, particularly in the Republican presidential campaign.

Nearly 59 million immigrants have come to the U.S. since Congress passed the nation’s 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which reshaped the face of America. Three-quarters of immigrants in this current wave come from Latin America and Asia. Today, there are 45 million immigrants in the U.S. who make up a near-record 14% of the U.S. population, including an estimated 11.3 unauthorized immigrants.

U.S. Views of Immigrants, by PartyOverall, Americans have mixed views about the impact immigrants have had on American society, with 45% saying they are making society better in the long run and 37% saying they are making it worse, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March and April.

But the partisan divide on this question is more pronounced. About half of Republicans (53%) say immigrants coming to the U.S. make society worse in the long run, compared with just 24% of Democrats.

On specific issues, the survey also found:

Read More

Topics: Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Immigration Trends, U.S. Political Parties

Sep 30, 2015 7:00 am

Europe’s asylum seekers: Who they are, where they’re going, and their chances of staying

FT_15.09.29_asylum_420pxThe European Union is still struggling to come up with a systematic way to both manage the unprecedented numbers of refugees streaming across its borders and try to keep more from coming. But even as tens of thousands of Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and others continue flooding into Europe, they’ll likely find that applying for asylum and getting permission to stay are two very different things.

We looked at data compiled by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency, on asylum applications to the 28 nations in the bloc (along with four other European countries that follow the EU’s rules for handling asylum requests). So far this year, according to the data, migrants have their best chance of gaining asylum if they (a) are from Syria, Eritrea or Iraq, and (b) apply in Bulgaria, Denmark or Malta.

Although the Eurostat data run only through part of August, they show that more than 600,000 people have applied for asylum in EU countries so far this year – 58% more than applied in the first eight months of 2014, and just shy of last year’s total of 662,000. (It’s important to note that the Eurostat figures only count people who have formally applied for asylum. Under EU law, asylum seekers generally are supposed to apply in the first EU country they enter, but thousands upon thousands are crossing southern and eastern Europe trying to reach more preferred destinations, such as Germany or Sweden, that have a more welcoming stance toward migrants and offer more benefits and job prospects.)  Read More

Topics: Europe, Migration

Sep 28, 2015 7:00 am

Key takeaways on U.S. immigration: Past, present and future

It has been a half-century since the enactment of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which dramatically changed patterns of immigration to the U.S. by replacing long-standing national origin quotas that favored Northern and Western Europe with a new system allocating more visas to people from other countries around the world. A new Pew Research Center study explores how much the face of immigration has changed – and changed the country – and how much more it will do so by 2065.

Here are some of the key findings:

U.S. Foreign-Born Share Projected to Hit Record Milestone by 20651Nearly 59 million immigrants have arrived in the U.S. since 1965, and accounting for deaths or those who have left, 43 million of them live here now. When their children and grandchildren are included, these immigrants added 72 million people to the nation’s population, accounting for 55% of population growth from 1965 to 2015. Immigrants and their descendants are projected to account for 88% of the population increase over the next 50 years.

2A near-record 13.9% of the U.S. population today is foreign born, with 45 million immigrants residing here. This compares with 5% in 1965, when the immigration law was changed. The current share of the population that is foreign born is only slightly below the record 14.8% that was seen during the waves of European-dominated immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This foreign-born share is projected to rise to 17.7% in 2065 as immigration continues to drive U.S. population growth. Read More

Topics: Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration Trends, Latin America, Mexico

Sep 25, 2015 2:30 pm

Catholics, especially Hispanics, echo pope’s call to embrace immigrants

When Pope Francis spoke before a joint session of Congress on Thursday, he described himself as the “son of immigrants” from Italy to Argentina and urged lawmakers to welcome those who come here searching for a better life. Whatever the partisan divide on Capitol Hill on the issue, it is a position most Americans embrace, at least when it comes to undocumented immigrants.

Roughly seven-in-ten American adults (72%) say that undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. who meet certain requirements should be allowed to stay legally, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in May. A nearly identical share of U.S. Catholics (73%) also say this.

Religious Groups' Views on the Status of Undocumented ImmigrantsReligious affiliation is not the most important factor when looking at the views of U.S. adults on immigration. There are bigger differences by political party and ethnicity on this issue – i.e., Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay legally, and Hispanics are more likely than whites and blacks to hold that view.

Real gaps do exist among U.S. Catholics. Nearly nine-in-ten Hispanic Catholics (88%) say that undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements should be able to stay in the U.S., including 56% who say these immigrants should be able to apply for citizenship. But a smaller majority of white Catholics (65%) support any kind of legal status for undocumented immigrants.  Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration Attitudes

Sep 25, 2015 1:47 pm

Republicans turned against Boehner, leaders after GOP’s big 2014 victory

FT_15.09.25_boehnerApproveRepublicans were elated after their party took full control of Congress in the 2014 midterms. But that mood quickly turned to disappointment, and Republicans’ frustration with House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders has risen sharply this year. Now, Boehner has become the latest casualty.

After years of trying to manage his rebellious GOP caucus, Boehner announced Friday he will be resigning as speaker and giving up his House seat at the end of October. The resignation comes as Boehner has been trying to avert a partial government shutdown on Oct. 1 – an effort that put him at odds with conservatives who are opposed to any funding bill that doesn’t cut off Planned Parenthood. His decision to resign could give him a freer hand to push the measure through.

Many Americans were unfamiliar with Boehner when he took over as speaker shortly after Republicans won a majority in the House in December 2010. At that time, 28% viewed him favorably and 25% unfavorably, while nearly half (47%) had no opinion of the Ohi0 Republican.

Read More

Topics: Congress, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties

Sep 25, 2015 9:00 am

What’s a sin? Catholics don’t always agree with their church

Pope Francis has publicly urged Catholics to receive the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, or confession, reminding them that “we are all sinners” and the shame associated with sin is “a grace” that prepares them for God’s forgiveness.

Despite the pontiff’s entreaties, only about four-in-ten U.S. Catholics (43%) say they go to confession at least once a year and 28% say they never go, according to Pew Research Center’s most recent survey of U.S. Catholics.

And yet, this lukewarm embrace of confession does not reflect a disbelief in sin: Roughly nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics (89%) do believe that some actions are offensive to God. Indeed, most American adults (78%) believe the same, including 91% of Protestants.  At the same time, however, many American Catholics do not agree with church teachings on what constitutes sinful behavior in several areas.

According to U.S. Catholics, Which Behaviors Are Sinful?

For instance, the recent Pew Research survey finds that U.S. Catholics are divided on homosexual behavior, with 44% saying it is sinful and 39% saying it is not – a figure that rises to 51% among Catholic adults under age 30. And majorities of Catholics say that living with a romantic partner outside marriage (54%) and getting a divorce (61%) are not sinful. About half (49%) say remarrying after a divorce without first obtaining an annulment is not a sin.

In addition, fully two-thirds of U.S. Catholics (66%) say using artificial birth control is not a sin. Even 57% of the most devout Catholics – those who report attending Mass at least weekly – say using contraceptives is not wrong.

Those who attend Mass weekly or more are divided over the sinfulness of cohabitation (46% say it is sinful, 45% say it is not). But these Catholics also are more likely to agree with church teachings when it comes to abortion and engaging in homosexual behavior: 73% and 59%, respectively, say these are sins. Indeed, a majority of all Catholics, regardless of whether they attend Mass regularly, say abortion is sinful (57%).

The pope has challenged Catholics to consider how their lifestyles harm the environment and how they can help the poor, but he may have some convincing to do during his U.S. visit this week. According to the latest Pew Research study of U.S. Catholics, 42% say buying luxury goods without giving to the poor is not sinful. And even larger shares say living in a house much larger than needed (73%) and using energy without considering its impact on the environment (61%) are not sins.

Topics: Abortion, Catholics and Catholicism, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Marriage and Divorce, Religion and Society, Social Values

Sep 25, 2015 7:00 am

Relatively few in U.S., Europe see climate change as a serious threat

Pope Francis is generally popular around the world, but when he highlights the global effects of climate change Friday at the United Nations General Assembly, he may get a lukewarm reception from many Americans and Europeans.

Global climate change was the top-rated threat in a 40-nation Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2015 – a median of 46% say they are “very concerned” about climate change.

But concern about climate change is relatively low in the United States and Europe. A median of 42% among both Europeans and Americans reports being very concerned about the issue.  Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Energy and Environment, Europe, Latin America

Sep 24, 2015 12:30 pm

What Americans, Europeans think of immigrants

Views of Immigrants in Europe and the U.S.Pope Francis has urged European Catholics to take in some of the thousands of migrants streaming in from Syria and other countries amid the world’s largest refugee crisis on record, and in his address to Congress today he urged leaders to welcome and respect immigrants coming to the U.S.

But just how closely public opinion aligns with the pope’s more benevolent attitude toward immigrants varies greatly. Germans, the British and Americans hold the most positive views of immigrants, while Greeks and Italians hold the most negative views, according to surveys conducted by Pew Research Center in the U.S. and seven European nations.

Read More

Topics: Europe, Immigration Attitudes, Middle East and North Africa, Wars and International Conflicts

Sep 24, 2015 11:00 am

How the U.S. compares with other countries taking in refugees


This week, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. would resettle 85,000 global refugees in the coming fiscal year and 100,000 in fiscal 2017, marking a significant – though far from historic – increase in taking in the world’s most desperate.

Conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere are driving hundreds of thousands of refugees to Europe, creating a humanitarian crisis that European leaders have been struggling to managePope Francis has called on Europe’s Catholics to do more to house refugees, and he is expected to address the issue again during his current U.S. visit.

The U.S. ranks 14th worldwide in the number of refugees it hosted last year (267,174), according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – though that represents less than 1% of the nation’s population. (The UNHCR figures represent the total number of refugees living in a country at year end who have not yet been permanently resettled there, regardless of when they arrived.)  Read More

Topics: Middle East and North Africa, Migration, Wars and International Conflicts