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:
1Nearly 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 →
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 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 →
Republicans 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.
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.
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.
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 →
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.
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 manage. Pope 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 →
In 2000, the United Nations put in place ambitious goals to lift people out of extreme poverty, and sub-Saharan Africa was one of the regions with the most room for improvement. The region had one of the highest percentages of people living in extreme poverty, the highest number of deaths among children under 5 and among mothers, and the lowest primary school enrollment rate.
Since those goals were set, the area that includes roughly 1 billion people made considerable progress improving the living conditions for many people. But as the UN looks to adopt new goals for the next 15 years, sub-Saharan Africa still lags behind other developing regions, particularly in the areas of poverty, health care and education.
This reality for many in Africa comes through in the recent Pew Research Center survey of 9,062 people across nine sub-Saharan African countries, which found that medians of at least eight-in-ten say these three issues are the most pressing challenges for their country. Read More →
Pope Francis is scheduled to celebrate Mass on an enormous scale Sunday, with 2 million people expected to gather on a mile-long parkway in downtown Philadelphia. And nearly 1,500 priests and deacons will be on hand to help distribute Holy Communion.
In Communion, Catholics receive bread and wine. The church teaches that when the bread and wine are consecrated by an ordained priest, they become the actual body and blood of the risen Christ; a theological explanation for this process, known as transubstantiation, has been supported by official church teaching since the 16th century.
The Catholic Church has a variety of rules and guidelines about who can receive Communion. For example, only baptized Catholics are eligible to receive Communion. If a Catholic is conscious of having committed a “grave sin” – for example, divorce or cohabitation with a romantic partner outside of marriage – he or she must first repent and perform penance for that sin before being eligible to receive Communion.
Here are five facts about U.S. Catholics and Communion:
1The church recommends that Catholics receive Communion every time they attend Mass, and about four-in-ten Catholics (43%) say they do so. Overall, 77% of Catholics report taking Communion at least some of the time when they attended Mass, while 17% say they never do so.
2While Hispanic Catholics are as likely as white Catholics to attend Mass weekly, Hispanic Catholics are much less likely than white Catholics to say they regularly receive Communion. Only 21% of Hispanic Catholics receive Communion every time they attend Mass, compared with 56% of white Catholics. About a third of Hispanic Catholics say they take Communion only some of the time they attend Mass (35%). And roughly a quarter say they never receive the Eucharist (27%). Read More →
Members of Congress today are less likely to be immigrants, especially compared with other periods of history when surges of new arrivals occurred, a new Pew Research Center analysis finds.
Just 1% (six members) of the current 114th Congress immigrated into the U.S. at some point in their lives, compared with about 10% (nine of 95) who were born abroad in the first Congress of 1789-91, which was a much smaller Congress, and 8% (31 of 407) during the next peak, the 50th Congress of 1887-89, amid the broader U.S. immigration wave from Europe.
There were no foreign-born senators or representatives in Congresses from 1967 to 1974. And the share of immigrants in Congress has risen only slightly since then, even as the U.S. has seen another wave of immigrants arriving from Latin America and Asia since 1965. (Our count does not include those who gained citizenship from being born to a U.S. parent while abroad or those born in U.S. territories, nor does it include nonvoting delegates, state commissioners and members who were elected but not sworn in.) Read More →
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