04/26/2006 - The issue of immigration leaves many Americans deeply conflicted. But the social and economic cross-pressures may be greatest on African Americans, who express relatively positive opinions of immigrants even as they view them as competitors for scarce job opportunities.
The vast majority of African Americans believe Latin American immigrants are hard-working (79%) and have strong family values (77%). Nationally, blacks voice concern that the growing number of newcomers to the U.S. could threaten traditional American values, but those concerns are shared equally by whites. And on many issues - notably in opinions of whether illegal immigrants should be eligible for government-provided social services - African Americans are far more sympathetic to the plight of immigrants than are whites.
Twice as many blacks as whites say that illegal immigrants should be eligible for social services (by 43% vs. 20%). While two-thirds of whites (67%) think the children of illegal immigrants should be permitted to attend public schools, an even higher percentage of African Americans agree (79%).
However, more blacks than whites say they or a family member have lost a job, or not gotten a job, because an employer hired an immigrant worker (by 22% vs. 14%). Blacks are also more likely than whites to feel that immigrants take jobs away from American citizens (by 34%-25%), rather than take jobs that Americans don't want.
For blacks, the growing presence of immigrant workers adds to the formidable obstacles they face in finding a job. More than three-quarters of blacks (78%) say jobs are difficult to find in their community, compared with only about half of Hispanics (55%) and whites (52%). In addition, 65% of African Americans say the availability of good jobs is a "very big problem" for the country; that compares with 43% of Hispanics and just 31% of whites.
Despite these concerns, however, blacks in the general public are more supportive than whites of permitting illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. About half (47%) say they should be allowed to stay, while an identical percentage (47%) of blacks believe illegal immigrants should be required to leave the U.S. In contrast, whites by a 59%-33% margin say that illegals should be required to return home.
Read the complete findings Attitudes Toward Immigration In Black and White on the Pew Research Center Web site.