U.S., European Sentiment: Immigrants A Bad Influence
Will Lester, AP, Seattle Times, May 27
WASHINGTON — Immigrants take the jobs local citizens don’t want in some of the world’s leading industrial nations, but the newcomers are still viewed negatively, Associated Press polls found.
In the United States and in the European countries polled — Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — people were more likely to say they had negative views of the influence of immigrants, according to the AP-Ipsos polls. The poll findings come at a time of high concern over unemployment and jobs and worries about terrorism.
Of the nine countries polled, only the Canadians had a positive view of the influence of immigrants, according to the polls conducted for the AP by Ipsos, an international polling firm. The Japanese were divided on the influence of immigration on their country.
The recent expansion of the European Union has raised fears among longtime EU members of a wave of immigration. Many of those countries have announced plans to limit access for newcomers to their labor markets.
Gilles Corman, who monitors European public opinion for Ipsos, says immigration is among the top issues Europeans want dealt with in elections there, behind unemployment.
In one country after another, those with more education tended to have the most positive view of the influence of immigration.
Britons expressed the strongest negative feelings of any of the nine countries polled. Six in 10 Britons, 60 percent, said immigrants are a bad influence on their country.
“The U.K. has historically embraced diversity,” said Sam McGuire, with Ipsos-UK. He said the high negative ratings may have to do with Britons’ fears about the recent expansion of the European Union, fanned by stories predicting a flood of immigrants.
Another country where residents said they had a fairly negative view of immigration was Germany, where almost six in 10, 57 percent, said immigrants have been a bad influence.
And while a solid majority of residents of most countries surveyed said it’s better for a country to have a variety of religions, more than four of 10 Germans disagreed with that.
Many countries share the experience of Spain, where an influx of immigrants provides laborers to work in olive and fruit groves, at construction sites and in greenhouses. Many sectors of the Spanish economy constantly need unskilled, cheap labor.
While people in the United States, Canada, the European Union and Japan generally said immigration provides a work force that takes unwanted jobs, almost half of Mexicans, whose country has less industrial development than others polled, said they see immigrants as a threat to their own work force.