Still Number One

November 4th, 2009 Scott Bittle

As if anyone needed proof that immigration will remain a major issue, a new international survey reports that some 700 million people worldwide say they would move to another country if they could. Not surprisingly, the largest single group, one-quarter, say their first choice would be to come to the United States.

We cant speak to the view of those overseas, but we can certainly talk about the immigrants who are already here. In our survey of immigrants, A Place to Call Home, we found a powerful endorsement of life in America. More than seven in 10 say that if they could do it all over again, theyd still come to the United States. Just as many say they intend to make the United States their permanent home.

The reasons are simple enough: immigrants buy into American society. Three-quarters say the United States is a unique country that stands for something special. Strong majorities also rate the U.S. as better than their birth country on a range of dimensions, including making a good living, having a trustworthy legal system and providing education and health care.

With all the ups and downs of our international reputation, with all the challenges we face, people still want to come to America. And the ones who have already come here, want to stay. Thats a powerful endorsement – and in fact, you couldnt ask for a better one.

Scott Bittle is the executive vice-president of Public Agenda, a non-partisan non-profit.

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