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Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration
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Public thinking about the new challenges of american immigration

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National Report on Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration. Produced in cooperation with the PBS series "The New Americans".

National Report on Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration. Produced in cooperation with the PBS series "The New Americans".

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  • 1. PUBLIC THINKING ABOUT The New Challenges of American Immigration An Analysis of Results from the 2003-2005 National Issues Forums A KETTERING FOUNDATION REPORT November 2005 Prepared by John Doble Research Associates
  • 2. The Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation, chartered in 1927, that does not make grants but welcomes partnerships with other institutions (or groups of institutions) and individuals who are actively working on problems of communities, politics, and education. The interpretations and conclusions contained in this publication, unless expressly stated to the contrary, represent the views of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the foundation, its trustees, or officers. www.kettering.org Copyright © 2005 by the Kettering Foundation
  • 3. Contents About the Forums: A Framework for Public Deliberation 1 Key Findings 3 Forum Results: Toward a Common Ground for Action 7 Highlights from: Special Outreach Forums 14 The Nature of Public Thinking: How Citizens Approach Complex Policy Issues 16 The Effects of Deliberation: The Impact of Forums on People’s Thinking 20 Appendices: A. National Survey and Post-forum Questionnaires B. National Survey and Forum Questionnaires C. Post-forum Questionnaire Results D. Demographics E. Methodology F. Forum Transcript Excerpts G. Developing the Issue Book and Linking NIF to Public Television (PBS) H. Issue Map 37 38 About Doble Research Associates About National Issues Forums About the Kettering Foundation 40 41 42 22 24 27 30 31 34
  • 4. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration About the Forums: A Framework for Public Deliberation This report examines the public’s thinking about immigration— the thoughts, insights, and values expressed by more than 1,073 everyday Americans in deliberative forums organized around the country by the National Issues Forums (NIF) network. Between mid-2003 and mid2005, these forums brought people together in high schools, colleges, community colleges, ESL classrooms, churches, synagogues and mosques, community and senior centers, public libraries, service organizations, private homes, and even prisons to deliberate about how to deal with the new challenges posed by American immigration. Forum results aren’t better than poll results. They’re different from poll results. Rather than provide a snapshot of public opinion as it exists, they offer a chance to understand what public opinion might be if people worked through an issue. They are different because they suggest what the boundaries of political permission might be if people had the opportunity to deliberate on an issue and consider the costs and consequences of different courses of action. Rather than specific actions, they suggest the types of actions the public might be willing to support. That journey, from what public opinion is to what public opinion could be, is called public thinking. An Analysis of Public Thinking When people come together in a National Issues Forum, they deliberate for up to three hours with a trained, impartial moderator. The deliberation takes place within a framework designed to present an array of approaches, choices, or broad strategies for dealing with a complex issue, along with the costs and consequences of each one. National Issues Forums are designed to help people see that even the most complex issues can be approached, understood, deliberated about, and addressed by ordinary Americans who lack special expertise or a policy background. Although the people who attend National Issues Forums comprise a geographically and demographically diverse group of Americans from an array of backgrounds, they are not, as pollsters often seek, a random (or national probability) sample.1 As a further distinction, while pollsters commonly sample opinion over a few days, these forums take place over many months. Consequently, the results of forums and of polls fundamentally differ. While a poll provides a clear snapshot of public opinion at a Forum results aren’t better than poll results. They’re different from poll results. Rather than provide a snapshot of public opinion as it exists, they offer a chance to understand what public opinion might be if people worked through an issue. 1See Demographics and Methodology at the end of this report for a description of the 1,073 people who filled in questionnaires, among the many who attended one of these forums. For purposes of comparison, we also conducted a series of research forums or focus groups in four sites, along with a random sample survey of 403 Americans. See pages 30–33 for details. November 2005 1
  • 5. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration given point in time, forums yield a more stable, differentiated, and often richer set of results. Forums enable us to explore the “public’s mind”—to analyze and map people’s thinking by revealing the values people draw on as they struggle with an issue over a long period of time, including the tension points in people’s thinking as they deliberate about complex issues. The Framework Forums enable us to explore the “public’s mind”—to analyze and map people’s thinking by revealing the values people draw on as they struggle with an issue over a long period of time. The forum results suggest the broad outlines of what the eminent social scientist Dan Yankelovich terms “the boundaries of political permission,” the course of action that Americans are willing to take along with the tradeoffs they see as acceptable. Forum participants across the country used an identical framework and considered the same three broad approaches to the issue of immigration. As noted, each approach was presented with pro and con arguments along with an array of costs and consequences. Every direction or course of action involved risks, uncertainties, and tradeoffs. Thus, preferences were associated with costs. Using an issue book and starter video, people considered three perspectives: • Immigration is a looming identity crisis. At the present rate, increasing diversity threatens to break the bonds of unity—the common ideals of language and democracy — that define our political institutions. Immigration should be slowed to allow time for immigrants to assimilate into American culture. • Open immigration has been the backbone of America’s strength. Combining diverse cultures yields a uniquely strong and rich society and, overall, immigration offers far more to American society than it takes from it. America must continue to welcome newcomers despite the costs. 2 Kettering Foundation • Immigrants strain the public purse, compete for jobs, and exceed our carrying capacity. The nation would benefit economically by slashing illegal immigration, restricting the number of other newcomers, and looking more closely at how their arrival affects the well-being of those already here. During the deliberations, people considered each approach. At the end of the forum, moderators and recorders asked the groups to consider what they had agreed on and what common ground for action, if any, they had identified. The Boundaries of Political Permission The outcomes of these forums reveal important insights about the nature of the public’s thinking about the issue of immigration—how people reason together and how lasting public views about questions of politics and policy take shape—in short, how typical Americans struggle with difficult public issues. Together, the forum results suggest the broad outlines of what the eminent social scientist Dan Yankelovich terms “the boundaries of political permission,” the course of action that Americans are willing to take, along with the tradeoffs they see as acceptable. It is unrealistic and unwise, Yankelovich writes, to expect the average citizen to acquire the expert’s level of knowledge or in-depth understanding and then provide dictates for the enactment of public policy. However, a “deliberative public,” a public with the opportunity to learn and deliberate about even the most complex issues, can establish a set of clearly recognizable boundaries within which policy-makers’ initiatives will enjoy solid public support. This report outlines some of the boundaries of political permission forum participants established for the new challenges of American immigration.
  • 6. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Key Findings Numerous public-opinion surveys and comments by political insiders and pundits suggest that Americans want to slam the door on immigration. Some even feel that, as they have done sometimes in the past, nativist sentiments are spreading like wildfire. But when people deliberate about the issue as they did in these NIF forums, they said they welcomed newcomers who come here legally, and they referred to this country as a “nation of immigrants.” Indeed, most participants saw both legal and illegal immigrants as hard-working, decent people who came here to escape persecution or in search of a better life. Instead of limiting legal immigration, most wanted to keep family immigration at current levels, while increasing the number of political refugees and immigrants with special skills. The benefits of legal immigration far outweigh the costs, they said. As described in this report, participants’ views about illegal immigrants were complex and sometimes at odds with conventional wisdom. describing, for example, the struggles people faced coming to and establishing themselves in this country. Many shared stories about the journeys of their grandparents and great-grandparents. African Americans also shared stories about their ancestors who, instead of fleeing persecution or seeking a better life, came to this country in chains, as enslaved people abducted from their homelands and as people who were seen as outsiders by a great many of those who came here long afterward. As they deliberated, participants also began to think in broader, national terms weighing, for example, what is fair to other communities. Many favored helping communities and regions where immigration has had profound effects. Finally, participants approached the issue on a human level, often commenting that immigrants, including those trying to enter the country illegally, are human beings with families, hopes and dreams, and basic needs, instead of an abstract concept or stereotype. How People Approached the Issue llegal Immigration Initially, forum participants who were not first- or second-generation Americans focused on immigration’s effects on themselves and their communities. But as the forums progressed, these participants often stepped back to reflect on the issue in terms of their ancestors’ experience, While people in many forums were concerned about losing control of our borders and the effects of large numbers of illegal immigrants entering the country, they also saw the economic benefits from this group. Participants talked about the value of illegal immigrants’ contributions in Numerous public-opinion surveys and comments by political insiders and pundits suggest that Americans want to slam the door on immigration. But when people deliberate about the issue as they did in these NIF forums, they said they welcomed newcomers who came here legally, and they referred to this country as a “nation of immigrants.” November 2005 3
  • 7. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration terms of providing high-quality, lowwage work, often in the underground economy, and filling jobs that Americans may not want at the wage being offered by employers. After seeing videotaped excerpts of these forums, Dan Griswold of the Cato Institute said, “I think one of the best points that the participants made is ‘where is the line of people standing out to apply for the jobs of plucking chickens or picking lettuce in the hot sun in California or scrubbing toilets at a discount store at night?’ They’re not there.” Many leaders define immigration as a national security issue and accordingly favor stricter border controls. While polls show this is also a public concern, terrorismrelated immigration was not an urgent issue in these forums. In a number of forums, participants pointed out that the 9/11 terrorists were in this country legally. Others said the Latinos crossing the country’s southern border are not the ones who pose a threat to the country’s national security. Terrorism Many leaders define immigration as a national security issue and accordingly favor stricter border controls. While polls show this is also a public concern, terrorism-related immigration was not an urgent issue in these forums. In a number of forums, participants pointed out that the 9/11 terrorists were in this country legally. Others said the Latinos crossing the country’s southern border are not the ones who pose a threat to the country’s national security. Commenting on the forums, Richard Harwood, president of the Harwood Institute pointed out that “a lot of these [immigrants] are part and parcel of [participants’] daily lives. That is different than the folks they may fear who are going to come into this country and do terrorist acts.” In short, the problem of immigration was not seen as a problem of terrorism. What People Value A number of values were at play: 4 Kettering Foundation TOLERANCE. Participants repeatedly said they welcome diversity, saying this country is stronger because of its differences. While a great many liked the metaphor of a “melting pot,” forum participants also said that newcomers should not relinquish their culture, traditions, religious beliefs, or even—as long as they speak English—their native language. Immigrants should feel free to honor or celebrate their heritage, participants said, because that is what America is all about. E PLURIBUS UNUM. Participants felt strongly that newcomers should learn English and become citizens and full-fledged Americans as soon as possible. Though diverse, the United States, they said, is one country that should not be divided by separatism or filled with ethnic enclaves. EQUITY. Participants wanted to ensure that the process of entering this country is fair. Also, they were concerned about how immigration might impact different U.S. regions and communities. Finally, they were concerned about what taxpayers can afford in terms of social services for illegal immigrants. COMPASSION. Participants respected the courage and drive of those who risked so much to enter this country illegally. Participants said some employers take advantage of illegal immigrants; especially in the Southwest, participants were concerned about illegal immigrants being exploited by “coyotes,” those who smuggle in illegal immigrants at a price. PRAGMATISM. Taking in more immigrants with special skills, many participants said, would benefit the country as a whole. And there was a general recognition that illegal immigrants come because so many welcome the cheap labor they offer.
  • 8. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration THE AMERICAN DREAM. Again and again, participants said this country is unique because it is “a nation of immigrants.” This heritage, they added, is the source of our strength and durability. The Effects of Deliberation Beyond learning more about the issue, participants’ views seemed to be less polarized than the views of the general public. In a national survey, using the same questions as in the post-forum questionnaire, the general public was more likely to “strongly” favor or oppose a number of statements related to this issue while forum participants’ responses were more measured. Also, having had the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of each approach, participants were more inclined to favor certain tradeoffs than was the general public, including providing financial relief to states and communities with especially large numbers of immigrants. In sum, the questionnaire results suggest that participants were far more willing to look for a common-ground solution to the issue. The Common Ground for Action Participants overwhelmingly said that newcomers should become part of the larger culture as quickly as possible. And while people agreed, for the most part, that immigrants should learn English, in the postforum questionnaire they rejected eliminating bilingual education. Forum participants also agreed about the value of diversity. Differences make the country strong, they said. Whether seeing the U.S. as a melting pot or a tapestry, forum participants took pride in the country’s tradition of accepting outsiders and incorporating them into society. When participants distinguished between the types of immigrants entering the country, they overwhelmingly favored continuing admission of family immigrants, with participants describing the economic and cultural benefits they bring to the country. But while refusing to cut the number of family immigrants being admitted, neither did they want to increase it. Many did want to increase the number of refugees being admitted, with some saying the U.S. should be more flexible and admit more people fleeing from economic as well as political persecution, especially from countries like Sudan. Many also wanted to admit more immigrants with special skills. While many participants, especially in the Southwest, wanted to limit or even slash illegal immigration, most were stumped on how to accomplish the goal. Ideas like building a wall, using the National Guard, or relying on citizen volunteers, such as the Minute Men, were usually rejected. Helping Mexico develop its economy so that it would become more prosperous was a popular idea, but most also saw this as a solution that would take a decade or more to implement. At the same time, a great many said that illegal immigrants fill jobs at low wages that Americans don’t want and, in the process, help producers and keep prices down for consumers. Where Are We Now? The forum results suggest that the American people are misinformed about key aspects of the issue and have a sketchy, incomplete understanding of others. In many respects, public opinion here has not jelled or been, to borrow a phrase from Daniel Yankelovich, “worked through.” For Beyond learning more about the issue, participants’ views seemed to be less polarized than the views of the general public. Participants overwhelmingly said that newcomers should become part of the larger culture as quickly as possible. Whether seeing the U.S. as a melting pot or a tapestry, forum participants took pride in the country’s tradition of accepting outsiders and incorporating them into society. While many participants, especially in the Southwest, wanted to limit or even slash illegal immigration, most were stumped on how to accomplish the goal. Ideas like building a wall, using the National Guard, or relying on citizen volunteers, such as the Minute Men, were usually rejected. The forum results suggest that the American people are misinformed about key aspects of the issue and have a sketchy, incomplete understanding of others. In many respects, public opinion here has not jelled. November 2005 5
  • 9. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Participants in many other forums seemed to be groping for some kind of practical, middle-ground solution that was in some respects similar to currently proposed legislation. We should also emphasize that the public has reached one rock hard judgment about the issue: that legal immigrants are welcomed into the United States, not only because immigration is our heritage, but also because immigrants are a principal source of this country’s creativity, vigor, and strength. The forums suggest that policymakers wishing to take the issue of a Visa or a guest-worker program to the public have work to do. 6 Kettering Foundation example, participants often had a blurred view of “immigrants,” with many not distinguishing between those who enter legally and illegally. Others overestimated the social service benefits that immigrants are eligible for while underestimating the Social Security and Medicare taxes they pay but will never collect. Acknowledging that our widespread use of illegal immigrant labor is at odds with immigration law, many who knew about guest-worker or Visa proposals favored them, while others saw them as promising alternatives after they learned more. Participants in many other forums seemed to be groping for some kind of practical, middle-ground solution that was in some respects similar to currently proposed legislation. However, in most forums, there was little talk about any type of guestworker program, let alone the idea’s pros and cons. Various poll results suggest that the American people as a whole may have more polarized views than did forum participants. That is, participating in a NIF forum may have led people to be more open to looking for a common-ground solution. We should also emphasize that the public has reached one rock hard judgment about the issue: that legal immigrants are welcomed into the United States, not only because immigration is our heritage, but also because immigrants are a principal source of this country’s creativity, vigor, and strength. What‘s Next? The forums suggest that policymakers wishing to take the issue of a Visa or a guest-worker program to the public have work to do. While many Americans may be open to the idea when they learn more, they currently know little or nothing about it. Also, since people often do not distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, there are misconceptions to correct. On the other hand, since the American people welcome newcomers, take great pride in the country’s tradition as a nation of immigrants, and are committed to the ideas of diversity and tolerance, there is much to build on.
  • 10. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Forum Results: Toward a Common Ground for Action Far from turning their backs on immigrants, participants who took up the “New Challenges of American Immigration” in National Issues Forums in 2003-2005 saw great benefits from newcomers, saying immigrants and their families enrich this country socially and economically. New arrivals are generally family-oriented, forum participants said, with admirable values, a strong work ethic, and a deep desire to improve their lot. A typical report came from a moderator in Boonville, Missouri, who said participants there “saw immigration historically as a source of the country’s strength.” Many NIF participants were firstor second-generation Americans, while others described the struggles their grandparents or great-grandparents had overcome in establishing themselves in this country. A woman in Seattle talked about her parents coming from the Philippines when she was three months old, saying “I come from a family of immigrants.” A man in Scottsdale, Arizona, said his Mexican-born mother still does not speak English but that he and his siblings who were born in the U.S. all have solid careers after graduating from college. Long Island high-school students reminisced about why their ancestors came to the U.S., mentioning job opportunities, political and religious freedom, and family reunification. A great many NIF participants saw the country as a melting pot, a mixture of different ethnic and racial groups that gives it a personality, diversity, and strength of character unmatched by any other. A moderator from Moorhead, Minnesota, said her group felt that “American culture is a great blend of ingredients.” A man in a Mesa, Arizona, forum said, “One of [this country’s] founding values … is that we are a melting pot; we accept all faiths, all races.” People in other forums saw the country more as a tapestry or mosaic. A woman from Charlottesville, Virginia, said people in the U.S. are part of “a crazy quilt.” But whether viewing the U.S. as a melting pot or a quilt, NIF participants returned to one theme again and again: “The United States is a nation of immigrants.” Without ignoring this country’s long history of slavery, racial discrimination, and treatment of Native Americans, many participants said America’s founding, by people fleeing religious persecution, was rooted in the idea of tolerance, a tradition that deepens and grows even as we continue to struggle with prejudice. The struggle facing Latinos today is not unique, a Hispanic man in Scottsdale, Arizona, said, adding, “The Chinese came over here, busted their tails building the railroads, and [the nonChinese living here] still hated them.” A woman in a Seattle forum described I come from a family of immigrants. — Seattle, Washington One of [this country’s] founding values ... is that we are a melting pot; we accept all faiths, all races. — Mesa, Arizona The Chinese came over here, busted their tails building the railroads, and [the non-Chinese living here] still hated them. — Scottsdale, Arizona November 2005 7
  • 11. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Although Germans had an extremely difficult time here after the first World War, as you can imagine, and also after the second, my family—being white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant—had an easier time assimilating what happened to her grandparents from Germany: Although Germans had an extremely difficult time here after the first World War, as you can imagine, and also after the second, my family—being white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant—had an easier time assimilating [and] … did not face the same problems as people who are black or Spanish. I’m fully aware of that. [and] … did not face the same problems as people who are Becoming an “American” black or Spanish. I’m fully Forum participants were not concerned that new arrivals would separate themselves or live in ethnic enclaves. Again and again, they said that, even though immigrants might live apart at first, their children and grandchildren will rapidly assimilate just as earlier waves of immigrants have done. However, participants also wanted immigrants to embrace American values—and the most important step toward becoming an American was to learn English. Immigrants should learn English for a variety of reasons. A woman in El Paso, Texas, said that when “people got off the boat [in the past], they did two things: they got a library card and they signed up for English classes at night. And then they got a job.” A woman in Sumter, South Carolina, said immigrants “need to see the importance of one [national] language” that unifies the country. Forum participants in Charlottesville, Virginia, offered a third reason, saying English is important so that immigrants can read signs and understand warnings. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Des Moines, Iowa, participants said up to 60 different languages are spoken in their local public schools. Interestingly, many recent immigrants, including a great many Latinos, agreed that new arrivals should quickly learn English. A Georgetown, Delaware, woman who aware of that. — Seattle, Washington Participants also wanted immigrants to embrace American values—and the most important step toward becoming an American was to learn English. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Des Moines, Iowa, participants said up to 60 different languages are spoken in their local public schools. Language definitely opened up the door for my brothers and me to be part of and engage in this society. — Georgetown, Delaware The strength of a nation is in its homogeneity.… In the past, immigrants have come [here] to have a better life. [But] it’s the opposite now … the immigrants who are coming now want to change us rather than change [themselves]. — El Paso, Texas 8 Kettering Foundation arrived eight years ago put it this way: “Language definitely opened up the door for my brothers and me to be part of and engage in this society,” she said. At the same time, most people who filled out the post-forum questionnaire, opposed the total elimination of bilingual education. A few participants expressed concern about the increasing diversity that accompanies immigration, saying newcomers are reshaping the culture instead of assimilating. A man from West Islip, New York, said that while “diversity is America and America is diversity … a concentration of a certain racial group isn’t good. There needs to be a balance.” A woman in El Paso, Texas, said: The strength of a nation is in its homogeneity.… In the past, immigrants have come [here] to have a better life. [But] it’s the opposite now … the immigrants who are coming now want to change us rather than change [themselves]. But the prevailing sentiment by far was that “becoming an American” did not mean denying one’s heritage or cultural traditions. Some called ethnic holidays a cause for celebration, not a celebration of division, adding that the idea of a melting pot did not mean losing a sense of who we are or where we came from. In Rindge, New Hampshire, participants said that while the cultural “melting” should occur as soon as possible, special holidays, cultural events, and a family’s heritage and history should never be lost. Participants overwhelmingly affirmed the importance of racial, ethnic, and cultural differences, saying they enjoyed learning about and exploring other traditions, arts and crafts, music, histories, and most of all, foods. A woman in Rapid City, South Dakota, said, “We have so many things to learn from each other.” A man in Salt Lake City, Utah,
  • 12. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration proudly described how his area celebrates diversity: We have October Fest up in Snowbird, the Greek festival downtown, Cinco de Mayo in Vail. Every school has a multi-cultural assembly, black awareness month, Hispanic-American month, Asian-American month. [In the Salt Lake City area] we recognize and even promote diversity. The Impact of Immigration A number of participants discussed the contributions people from other countries make to the U.S. Some stressed the economic value of bilingual citizens, with a woman in Panama City, Florida, saying, “We need to be thinking globally; we’re an international market now.” A woman in West Islip, New York, said her mother’s company recruits people who can speak English and Spanish. Others talked about shrinking borders for business, saying a diverse population makes the U.S. more competitive in a global economy. As participants deliberated, it was clear that they saw immigrants as family-oriented people who work hard and have admirable core values. A woman in Salt Lake City, Utah, said, “We had Mexican immigrants living with my family when we lived in Idaho.… I’ve never seen people work harder in my life.” A man in Panama City, Florida, who had supervised a construction crew of 23 Mexicans said, “They were the hardest working people I’d ever met.” More generally, immigrants were seen as morally upstanding, religious people who honor their parents and teach their children right from wrong. A moderator from Centerville, Ohio, said her group agreed that immigrants “exemplify what is most positive in our society—hard work and family.” A man in a forum in Rapid City, South Dakota, said, “They’re good [people].” In Moorhead, Minnesota, participants said immigrants respect their elders and appreciate educational opportunities. Different Types of Immigrants In most forums, people talked about immigrants as if they were a single group, without realizing that there are different classifications. In addition, participants’ views were influenced by where they live. Participants in the Southwest focused on illegal immigrants while in Seattle, participants mainly talked about newcomers from Asia. Migrant or seasonal workers were the principal topic in Georgetown, Delaware, an agricultural area and large poultry producer, while in Grand Rapids, Michigan, participants focused on the Sudanese the community has taken in, and in Minnesota, participants talked about Hmong and other Southeast-Asian people and Somalis who have been relocated there. Iowa participants, on the other hand, said their state has a “welcome mat” out for new arrivals because native-born residents continue moving out in record numbers. As they listened to other people’s views and considered information provided in the course of the forum, participants expressed different views about various immigrant groups. Most said the country is admitting about the right number of family immigrants. While there was little call to increase that number, neither did many want to reduce it. A woman in El Paso, Texas, said, “It’s probably a sound basis for immigration that a family is able to come in, rather than one wage-earner that may get into a lot of trouble because his family’s not there to anchor them.” Similarly, a man in Salt Lake City, Utah, said: We need to be thinking globally; we’re an international market now. — Panama City, Florida We had Mexican immigrants living with my family when we lived in Idaho.… I’ve never seen people work harder in my life. — Salt Lake City, Utah In most forums, people talked about immigrants as if they were a single group, without realizing that there are different classifications. November 2005 9
  • 13. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration I don’t think [family immigrants are] the problem. These people have a foundation in the United States. And their family is more than willing to put them up in jobs and school and to educate them and teach them the culture, [and help them] to assimilate. African Americans … feel foreigners are treated better than American blacks. — Grand Rapids, Michigan Our biggest problem is … illegals … draining the [social] services [and] not contributing to the society. — Arizona 10 Kettering Foundation Participants were proud of the country’s tradition of taking in political refugees, and many favored increasing the number. Some wanted to take in more people fleeing economic deprivation as well as political persecution, especially from places like Sudan. Some also wanted the U.S. to treat all potential refugees equally and not give preference to, for example, Cubans over Haitians. Many participants favored admitting more skilled workers: medical personnel, engineers, skilled professionals, workers with advanced degrees, and investors who plan to open businesses that will employ U.S. workers. Skilled workers provide essential services and make a significant social and economic contribution, participants said. “We’re lucky to have them,” said a participant from Troy, New York. Participants in Sumter, South Carolina, and Centerville, Ohio, talked about the need for more health-care workers in underserved, rural areas. In the post-forum questionnaires, participants favored letting in more skilled workers by a margin of about three-to-one, although during the deliberation some voiced concern that we are not sending enough of our own young citizens to graduate schools to train for certain professions, such as engineering and medicine. At the same time, we heard other voices. Some participants said immigrants receive preferential treatment in terms of social services. A woman in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said, “African Americans … feel foreigners are treated better than American blacks.” Participants in Dayton, Ohio; Georgetown, Delaware; and West Islip, New York, voiced similar views. Others said illegal immigrants with few skills will accept very low wages and thereby take jobs away from Americans struggling to work their way up. Participants in Charlottesville, Virginia, complained about recruiters traveling to the Philippines to recruit nurses when employers are cutting nurses’ benefits in Virginia, and a number of participants were concerned about a “brain drain” that “robs” a native country of some of its most talented and skilled citizens. Illegal Immigration The most controversial issue in these forums involved people entering the country illegally. Some complained that illegal immigrants use social services at the expense of taxpayers. An Arizona man grumbled that “our biggest problem is … illegals … draining the [social] services [and] not contributing to the society.” Without acknowledging the taxes that illegal immigrants do pay (i.e. under false ID numbers to Social Security and Medicare), participants at a senior center in St. Cloud, Minnesota, echoed this view, saying illegal immigrants use the local public schools and the health-care system without paying for them. A San Diego woman added, “Immigrants can get loans that [citizens] aren’t eligible for.” Others fretted that, since immigrants and seasonal workers send so much money back home, they have little left for their own needs, leaving them without auto or health insurance. As a result, one woman said, immigrants drive without insurance, and if they’re in a car accident, cannot pay the cost of repair or may even leave the scene rather than risk being deported. Summarizing the views of
  • 14. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration several participants, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, man said, “This country has limits to what we can afford; we’re not unlimited in that we can just allow anybody in the world to come here because they’re in need.” Some were cynical about the government’s willingness to crack down on illegal immigration, saying corporations profit from cheap labor. In Sumter, South Carolina, participants said the companies that hire illegal immigrants need to be held accountable. “They treat [illegal immigrants] like field hands,” a man there said. “They’re not paying them the minimum wage.” An El Paso, Texas, man said Hondurans who work in Pennsylvania picking produce are recruited by a local man who promises them jobs as long as they can get there. While many participants wanted to cut, some drastically, the number of illegal immigrants entering the country each year, most were at a loss as to how to do it. Some favored tighter border controls. A Utah man wanted the National Guard to patrol the Mexican border, until someone else pointed out that the Guard is now fighting two wars; only a few saw a wall or fence along the border as a serious proposal. Nor did many warm to the idea of citizen-led efforts to curb illegal immigration. Finally, the idea of working with Mexico to improve that country’s economy appealed to some participants, including a man in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who said, “I don’t care how much money you have for enforcement—until you can address the reasons why people want to come to this country you’re not going to solve the problem.” But improving the Mexican economy, others said, is at best a remedy that will take years. As people deliberated and listened to other points of view, the thinking of many participants, including even some who wanted to drastically cut down on illegal immigration, became more nuanced. The reason so many illegal immigrants come to this country is because they have few alternatives, participants said. A man in Georgetown, Delaware, said: The stricter [the U.S. is], the more undocumented or what some call them illegal aliens [will enter the country]. People are seeking work, they’re seeking opportunity. That’s the … underside of … tightening things up. As they deliberated, more and more participants in forum after forum observed that immigrants provide valuable or even essential labor at bargain rates to agriculture, small businesses, and even homeowners. A woman in Mesa, Arizona, said, “We need really cheap labor. These people have to be here for us to live the way we live.” A man in Panama City, Florida, said, “The lazy ones aren’t coming across the border,” while a Seattle, Washington, man described his experience with immigrant workers: They do fantastic work. A couple of them wound up staying in my grandmother’s house … for maybe a month and a half … They actually remodeled her kitchen [and] … saved my grandmother a ton of money. Others said immigrants take on jobs that Americans will not. “If somebody comes here and wants to work in a chicken factory, whose job are they taking? Is there a line of Americans standing in line to work in a chicken factory?” asked a man from Georgetown, Delaware. A woman in Charleston, West Virginia, asked, “Why do we get so upset about immigrants ‘taking our jobs’ if we haven’t taken them?” Others talked about a lax work ethic, especially among the This country has limits to what we can afford; we’re not unlimited in that we can just allow anybody in the world to come here because they’re in need. — Cedar Rapids, Iowa They treat [illegal immigrants] like field hands.…“They’re not paying them the minimum wage. — Sumter, South Carolina I don’t care how much money you have for enforcement— until you can address the reasons why people want to come to this country you’re not going to solve the problem. — Cedar Rapids, Iowa If somebody comes here and wants to work in a chicken factory, whose job are they taking? Is there a line of Americans standing in line to work in a chicken factory? — Georgetown, Delaware November 2005 11
  • 15. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration There was a time in our history when we needed … cheap labor. We’re at a time like that again. — Charleston, West Virginia Why doesn’t the government go after employers who exploit illegal immigrants by providing low, non-living wages? — Charleston, West Virginia They ought to skin those coyotes—those people who … leave [groups of people trying to enter illegally] in a van in the middle of the desert! — Scottsdale, Arizona Many of us are frightened for our lives and our safety, and I think that is one of the problems that surrounds this particular issue. — El Paso, Texas 12 Kettering Foundation younger generation, a man in Sumter, South Carolina, said. “Immigrants apply themselves to the job because they want to get to the top.” Some pointed out that low-wage workers keep prices low for both consumers and businesses. If we eliminate illegal immigration, said a man in Sumter, South Carolina, prices will rise dramatically. A man in Charleston, West Virginia, said “There was a time in our history when we needed … cheap labor. We’re at a time like that again.” But there were other indirect outcomes from illegal immigrants that participants in the forums noted positively. Some said that undocumented workers pay sales tax and often Social Security tax, which they will never collect. Contributed indirectly, such money helps alleviate this country’s long-term problem with that program. Others pointed out that immigrants are eligible for far fewer social services than is commonly believed. And beyond the economic issues, many expressed humanitarian sentiments and compassion. In Georgetown, Delaware, some were concerned about landlords exploiting migrants who don’t understand their rights and have nowhere to turn for help. A student in Charleston, West Virginia, wondered why the government doesn’t go after employers who “exploit illegal immigrants by providing low, non-living wages?” In a number of cases, participants expressed sympathy for those who risked so much to come to this country. A high-school student in West Islip, New York, said an illegal immigrant he worked with in a gardening job “walked 12 hours across the desert, then hitchhiked to New York” to take it. Even in the Southwest, where anti-illegal immigrant sentiment was most pronounced, partici- pants expressed compassion for those trying to get across the border. A Scottsdale, Arizona, man said, “They ought to skin those coyotes—those people who … leave [groups of people trying to enter illegally] in a van in the middle of the desert!” Others admired those who would risk everything to come to this country, such as a woman who carried her children across the desert. Even a San Diego woman, who had wanted to close the border to all immigrants, legal and illegal, for at least ten years, also said: The people that have immigrated here are already here … So personally I would probably help them out because if they’re having problems [because] they’re not leaving; they’re going to continue to have a problem. Terrorism A few in the forums saw terrorism as a good reason to limit immigration. A woman in El Paso, Texas, said, “Many of us are frightened for our lives and our safety, and I think that is one of the problems that surrounds this particular issue.” Fears about immigration are always around, said a Mesa, Arizona, man, “but what 9/11 did was make it more concentrated.” But what was striking about these forums was how rarely terrorism was mentioned. In a great many cases, it did not come up at all. When it was discussed, participants often talked about not overreacting or letting the “politics of fear” take over. A moderator from Grand Rapids, Michigan, said that while people there felt insecure after 9/11, they were also afraid of losing basic freedoms. Others pointed out that the 9/11 terrorists were in this country legally and that restricting immigration would not affect the problem of those who come into the country to commit terrorist acts. Still others said the terrorist threat comes from Muslim extremists
  • 16. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration and Middle Easterners, not from Latinos crossing the desert. And some worried about the international effects, with a Mesa, Arizona, man saying if the U.S. restricts immigration in its efforts “to deal with [terrorism], you’re sending a signal to the rest of the world that folks are not wanted here.” A Guest-worker Program When the idea of a guest-worker program came up, few clearly understood the formal proposals that political leaders have suggested. In a small number of forums, however, whether or not participants actually understood the idea completely, many supported or even suggested such a concept, saying a Visa or guest-worker program sounded like a promising way to reduce the number of people crossing the border illegally. Such thinking appeared to be driven by dissatisfaction with what participants saw as an apparently unenforceable immigration policy at odds with the enticements offered for relatively cheap labor. Participants in Mesa, Arizona, were familiar with the idea, and supported it with near unanimity. Forum participants in La Porte, Indiana; Edison, New Jersey; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Georgetown, Delaware; and Rindge, New Hampshire, also reacted positively to the idea, with one saying it “would help people come out of the shadows.” On the other hand, some participants were cynical about the proposal, including people in Charlottesville, Virginia, who saw a guest-worker program as a political ploy designed to get Latino votes. Still others said it would only “reward” those who are already in the U.S. illegally at a time when other immigration applicants are turned away or caught up in the bureaucracy. Regional Costs As people deliberated about the issue, many came to the view that the country should provide special help to states and communities that take in large numbers of immigrants. In the post-forum questionnaire, participants favored providing financial relief to areas hard pressed by immigration by a margin of 55 percent to 31 percent. In Athens, Georgia, participants said the federal government should especially help the public schools whenever there is a large influx of newcomers. A woman in El Paso, Texas, talked about the burden on hospitals that treat large numbers of illegal immigrants, with a woman there adding, “Only the federal budget has [enough] money that can help us along the border.” The Role of the Media An issue that came up in a small number of forums involved the role of the news media. As they deliberated about the issue and came to see it in greater depth, some participants complained that the media tends to oversimplify the issue. A man in Seattle, Washington, said “[This] issue is far deeper and [more] multi-leveled than media sources would have us believe.” A woman in that forum said the media focuses only on one aspect of the issue and “don’t talk about the legal immigration on the news.” And a man from Panama City, Florida, said, “If [you] listen to the media, you’d think we have an unemployment problem because there are too many immigrants.… [And that is] simply not true.” When the idea of a guest-worker program came up, few clearly understood the formal proposals that political leaders have suggested. As people deliberated about the issue, many came to the view that the country should provide special help to states and communities that take in large numbers of immigrants. [This] issue is far deeper and [more] multi-leveled than media sources would have us believe. — Seattle, Washington If [you] listen to the media, you’d think we have an unemployment problem because there are too many immigrants.… [And that is] simply not true. — Panama City, Florida November 2005 13
  • 17. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Highlights from: Special Outreach Forums Participants acknowledged it is not necessary to learn English to function socially in that community. But they also said that learning English is needed to succeed economically and become an American citizen. Some added that knowing English helps parents “remain credible with [our] children who will learn it.” “It’s much harder for the first generation [to adjust],” adding that “parents worry their kids [will] go too far to the other side” and become so completely assimilated that they lose their own heritage. Moderators in these forums heard undocumented workers discuss how fearful they were about being exploited at work or caught and expelled. As a result, they seek jobs only with other immigrants and seek help from support groups they trust. 14 Kettering Foundation In 2004, special “outreach forums” were held in Missouri, Texas, New York, Michigan, and California to explore ways to bring more diverse groups of people to the National Issues Forums. Using the same issue book, these forums took particular care to reach out to immigrant communities, ultimately involving large numbers of bilingual and Spanish-speaking participants. Two forums in El Paso, Texas, were attended by large numbers of recent immigrants, including a number of undocumented workers. Participants acknowledged it is not necessary to learn English to function socially in that community. But they also said that learning English is needed to succeed economically and become an American citizen. Some added that knowing English helps parents “remain credible with [our] children who will learn it.” In Long Island, New York, three forums were held with recent immigrants and others, including some undocumented workers. Here, recent arrivals felt that the U.S. does not always live up to its heritage and reputation for tolerance and fairness. Immigrants also talked about limited opportunities to learn English. At two forums, there was discussion about how immigrants tend to “group” together and not learn English because they can easily work and live among their own people. Participants also discussed the idea that Latinos “may assimilate less quickly” than did groups in the past because so many of them share a common language, and some reported leading “double lives” as they struggle to maintain their native culture while working within the U.S. system. In a forum in Michigan, newcomers said the government should “provide more information and outreach.” A recent immigrant from Mexico also said, “It’s much harder for the first generation [to adjust],” adding that “parents worry their kids [will] go too far to the other side” and become so completely assimilated that they lose their own heritage. Moderators in these forums heard undocumented workers discuss how fearful they were about being exploited at work or caught and expelled. As a result, they seek jobs only with other immigrants and seek help from support groups they trust. Some illegal immigrants also discussed how they were planning to return to their native countries after they had earned enough money. In Michigan, a woman in a bilingual forum said
  • 18. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration most Americans “don’t realize that people are risking their lives to come here.” Finally, some moderators reported tension between African Americans and Hispanics, with some African Americans saying Hispanics are getting jobs more easily than they are or that society is more accepting of newcomers than it has been of African Americans. There was particular tension about job competition with those who are undocumented. A moderator from one of the Michigan forums said, “There are strong emotions around issues of race relations—fear of the unfamiliar and of rejection.” While the forums suggest that the idea of hostility towards immigrants may have been exaggerated, these unusually frank and deliberately gathered multi-ethnic forums made clear the existence of a kind of mutual tension between this “fear of the unfamiliar” on the part of citizens and “of rejection” among the immigrants. Perhaps most striking were the similarities between these forums and what we heard in other NIF forums across the country. Newcomers in these forums talked about the importance of learning English in order to do well economically, which participants generally also said was essential. These immigrants were willing to work hard in order to succeed. Finally, many saw the U.S. as the land of opportunity and hoped that their children would become full-fledged Americans, while retaining the essential aspects of their native culture. Some moderators reported tension between African Americans and Hispanics, with some African Americans saying Hispanics are getting jobs more easily than they are or that society is more accepting of newcomers than it has been of African Americans. There are strong emotions around issues of race relations—fear of the unfamiliar and of rejection. — Michigan Perhaps most striking were the similarities between these forums and what we heard in other NIF forums across the country. Newcomers in these forums talked about the importance of learning English in order to do well economically, which participants generally also said was essential. November 2005 15
  • 19. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration The Nature of Public Thinking: How Citizens Approach Complex Policy Issues Ordinary public opinion polls provide a snapshot of what people think at a given point in time. If conducted with expertise and rigor, the result is an exceptionally accurate snapshot of public opinion. But with a complex policy issue like immigration, public opinion is more likely to be in motion than fixed. Many forum participants connected to the issue based on their personal experience. I am second-generation American. My dad and my entire family came up through the fields and one of the things they’ve always done … [was] be there for their family [and] for this country. —forum participant 16 Kettering Foundation Ordinary public-opinion polls provide a snapshot of what people think at a given point in time. If conducted with expertise and rigor, the result is an exceptionally accurate snapshot of public opinion. But with a complex policy issue like immigration, public opinion is more likely to be in motion than fixed. Dan Yankelovich has written that public opinion about such issues moves through a series of stages, from initial awareness in which people learn about an issue to a final stage of judgment in which people understand the issue, having had time and opportunity to consider what to do about it after weighing the tradeoffs or costs and consequences of different courses of action through a process of deliberation. Although participants in National Issues Forums cannot reach a final judgment about what to do about an issue in three hours or less, they begin that journey. Through the use of a neutral, balanced framework that introduces distinctively different approaches for dealing with an issue, along with the tradeoffs, participants publicly deliberate while approaching an issue realistically in different ways. The result is that, while public opinion polls tell us what people think, National Issues Forums enable us to explore people’s thinking, that is, how people think about an issue as they grapple with it. Here we analyze the thinking of a diverse group of more than 1,073 participants from 41 states plus the District of Columbia as they deliberated about the issue of immigration for up to three hours. A Personal Connection Many forum participants connected to the issue based on their personal experience. Some were immigrants themselves. Others said their parents or grandparents were first-generation newcomers, often arriving in this country with little or nothing, including no knowledge of English, before succeeding in raising a family and becoming productive citizens. One man said, “I am second-generation American. My dad and my entire family came up through the fields and one of the things they’ve always done … [was] be there for their family [and] for this country.” Many talked about their interactions with immigrants who are their friends, neighbors, co-workers, employees or employers, or people they encounter day to day. Participants also connected to this issue in terms of where they live. While a great many participants
  • 20. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration admired how hard immigrants work and their strong family values, some talked about what they saw as the negative effects of immigration on their community. In Georgetown, Delaware, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, participants said immigrants are taking jobs that used to be filled by African Americans— although it was not clear how many African Americans wanted all of those jobs today. Some, especially in the Southwest, complained about the cost of social services for illegal immigrants. In other locations, participants talked about refugees—Kurds, Bosnians, Hmong, Haitians, and Poles—that were relocated to their communities. And in some locations, including Boonville, Missouri, and Charleston, West Virginia, moderators said the issue had not really impacted the community. National and Global Connections As people deliberated and considered the views of others, their perspectives often expanded from a personal to a national or even global point of view. For example, many favored helping locales that take in large numbers of immigrants. In some forums, people discussed global aspects of the issue, including the economic attraction this country holds for so many people around the world. Some talked about a “brain drain,” saying immigration “robs” immigrants’ native countries of some of their most educated and talented individuals. A student in West Islip, New York, warned that since we or our ancestors were all immigrants, overly strict limits on immigration would send the wrong message to the world. Long-term Considerations When most people initially consider a complex public issue, they generally think about short-term, immediate solutions to the issue’s impact on them and their community. But when they publicly deliberate about an issue, people inevitably begin to consider an issue’s long-term implications. Accordingly, while many emphasized the importance of speaking English, they usually also said that the issue will work itself out over the long term. A moderator from Georgetown, Delaware, reported how his group felt: the first generation limps by, the second speaks both English and their parents’ native language fluently, and the third tends to leave their ethnic language behind altogether. Participants’ views were endorsed by Dan Griswold of the Cato Institute after watching videotaped excerpts of the forums. “One citizen mentioned the Irish,” he said. “They seemed very strange when they came over here.… They felt the same way with the Italians, and the Russian Jews, and the Poles. They were considered different races at the time. But they [all] learned English. And in particular their children learned English.” In Georgetown, Delaware, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, participants said immigrants are taking jobs that used to be filled by African Americans. As people deliberated and considered the views of others, their perspectives often expanded from a personal to a national or even global point of view. While there is talk among pundits about how polarized Americans have become on this issue, the outcome of these forums suggests that such polarization has been exaggerated. Finding Middle Ground While there is talk among pundits about how polarized Americans have become on this issue, the outcome of these forums suggests that such polarization has been exaggerated and that, to a noticeable extent, public deliberation tends to reduce polarization. For the most part, people in the forums did not gravitate toward November 2005 17
  • 21. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration NIF participants were more likely to be open to finding some kind of common ground on which a workable solution could be crafted that would be broadly acceptable or palatable, if not precisely the first choice of a large majority. These people [in the NIF forums] do understand, and they understand really more clearly than an awful lot of our political class, it would seem to me. —Doris Meissner, Migration Policy Institute Forum participants tended to weigh the issue carefully. Concern about “losing control of our borders” was balanced against the benefits of taking in large numbers of low-wage, highly motivated workers. We are seemingly unable to pay the difference between fairness and cheapness, and I find that disturbing.” —Cedar Rapids, Iowa 18 Kettering Foundation extreme positions or advance the kind of rhetoric that permeates some of the national dialogue. Instead, participants tended to be reflective, while taking in new information and the opinions of others. A moderator in Troy, New York, said that while there was great interest in the issue, the discussion was less acrimonious than he had expected. In the post-forum questionnaire, NIF participants were far less inclined than the public as a whole either to strongly favor or to strongly oppose a number of immigration measures. Instead, NIF participants were more likely to be open to finding some kind of common ground on which a workable solution could be crafted that would be broadly acceptable or palatable, if not precisely the first choice of a large majority. Upon viewing taped excerpts of National Issues Forums, Doris Meissner, of the Migration Policy Institute and formerly Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) Commissioner said, “These people [in the NIF forums] do understand, and they understand really more clearly than an awful lot of our political class, it would seem to me.” Balanced Forum participants tended to weigh the issue carefully. Concern about “losing control of our borders” was balanced against the benefits of taking in large numbers of low-wage, highly motivated workers who play a vital role in the economy. Many talked about seasonal or agricultural workers, without whom crops would be far more expensive or perhaps not harvested at all. Others talked about illegal immigrants in the building trades, especially construction, and in the underground economy. When deciding what to do about this issue, the positives, participants said, need to be taken into consideration along with the negatives, such as the costs of providing social services. Many were alarmed about the cost of social services for illegal immigrants, but others pointed out that undocumented workers who pay taxes to Social Security will never collect it. Also, while some participants complained about the cost of educating the children of illegal immigrants, others looked at the return on that investment; a woman in St. Cloud, Minnesota, said, for example, that while the first generation of immigrants may be burdensome, they add value to society and that “once you get to the third and fourth generations, they really add value.” As the forums progressed, participants wrestled with the complexities of the issue, including the pros and cons of limited resources. Many said some illegal immigrants will always get through since the country’s borders are so vast and permeable. A moderator in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said people in a forum there “struggled” with the issue, believing a balance must be struck between the numbers of immigrants admitted and our ability to help those in greatest need, especially refugees. Rich discussion involved consumer prices and wages for undocumented immigrants, with a woman in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, saying “We are seemingly unable to pay the difference between fairness and cheapness, and I find that disturbing.” According to former INS Commissioner Doris Meissner, “Our problem is that we have jobs available in this country. [The people in the forums] stated it
  • 22. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration very well. We like our cheap products; we particularly like our cheap food. And what we have [is] a policy … [that says] we will fortify that border as much as we can, but if you get past it there is a job waiting for you.” Humane Far from being indifferent, the American people have traditionally been humane, a trait that becomes more pronounced when people deliberate. No matter where they stood on the issue, forum participants empathized with immigrants, admired the courage it took them to get here, respected their work ethic and attitudes toward family, and were concerned they might be exploited. Even those who most strongly object to illegal immigration expressed concern about the safety of those who cross the desert to enter the U.S. Pragmatic Americans have historically been a pragmatic people, but this quality becomes even more pronounced when they deliberate. When talking about the importance of immigrants learning English, they did not want children to fall hopelessly behind. Similarly, participants who were most concerned about illegal immigration still did not necessarily think putting the military on the border was a workable solution, especially at this time. A man in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said “We’re a nation of immigrants, but most importantly we’re a nation of laws.” After watching taped excerpts from these forums, Richard Harwood summed it up: “I think that what we saw on these tapes today was the American public’s ability and willingness to engage, to wrestle with these challenges, to acknowledge where they’re contradicting themselves, and to try and figure out to the best of their ability with the information that they have how we might be able to move forward.” “Our problem is that we have jobs available in this country. [The people in the forums] stated it very well. We like our cheap products; we particularly like our cheap food. And what we have [is] a policy … [that says] we will fortify that border as much as we can, but if you get past it there is a job waiting for you.” —Doris Meissner, Migration Policy Institute A trait that becomes more pronounced when people deliberate … far from being indifferent, the American people have traditionally been humane. Even those who most strongly object to illegal immigration expressed concern about the safety of those who cross the desert to enter the U.S. Americans have historically been a pragmatic people. Participants who were most concerned about illegal immigration still did not necessarily think putting the military on the border was a workable solution.… “We’re a nation of immigrants, but most importantly we’re a nation of laws.” November 2005 19
  • 23. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration The Effects of Deliberation: The Impact of Forums on People’s Thinking Participants tended to say that the forums had three effects: first, it helped them see how complex the issue is; second, it enhanced their understanding of other points of view; third, it left them mulling over the issue and wanting to learn more. I am more confused—I can see validity to some things I may not have before, and less validity to others. — Seattle, Washington The forum opened my eyes to different points of view, especially from minorities, specifically African Americans. — Georgetown, Delaware 20 Kettering Foundation Near the end of most National Issues Forums, participants are asked what impact the deliberation had on their thinking. Participants tended to say that the forums had three effects: first, it helped them see how complex the issue is; second, it enhanced their understanding of other points of view; third, it left them mulling over the issue and wanting to learn more. 1) Many participants said the forum helped them realize that the issue is more complex than they originally thought. A man in Poughkeepsie, New York, said he came to an “increased awareness of [the issue’s] complexity as well as the need [to accept] tradeoffs [and make] compromises in formulating solutions.” A woman in Seattle, Washington, said she was “exposed to thinking about a more difficult subject than most of us concern ourselves with” on a dayto-day basis, adding that the forum was “most enlightening.” A Seattle man said “I am more confused— I can see validity to some things I may not have before, and less validity to others.” 2) People left the forums with an enhanced understanding of other points of view. Most forums were attended by a diverse group of people, including first-, secondand third-generation immigrants from all over the world. In addition to those coming from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australia, a great many Latin Americans attended these National Issues Forums. This wealth of diversity, along with people’s willingness to share their stories, led to rich, full, informative deliberations. A woman in Georgetown, Delaware, said that although immigration “remains a very complex issue, the forum opened my eyes to different points of view, especially from minorities, specifically African Americans.” A Hofstra University student said, “The best part of the discussion was the large number [in attendance] who were immigrants or direct descendants of immigrants … [which] put a [human] face on the issue [and gave me] a first-person point of view.”
  • 24. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration 3) The forums left people stewing about the issue and wanting to learn more. Immigration is not an issue that can be easily solved, participants said; it will require more listening, thinking, and deliberating. A man in Rapid City, South Dakota, said we would not be able to solve the issue quickly because there are too many options —a reality, he added, that is the “tradeoff of democracy.” A student in West Islip, New York, said “I am more torn about the issue because [of] all [the] sides that I’ve been exposed to. I am not sure where I stand, but I am more informed.” Participants in Moorhead, Minnesota, came out of that forum saying they did not have enough information, adding there’s a need for a lot more education on this issue in their community. Summing up the views of many participants, a man in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said “The more we talked, the less I realized that I know. But I’m really motivated now to learn more.” I am more torn about the issue because [of] all [the] sides that I’ve been exposed to. I am not sure where I stand, but I am more informed. — West Islip, New York The more we talked, the less I realized that I know. But I’m really motivated now to learn more. — Cedar Rapids, Iowa November 2005 21
  • 25. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Appendix A: National Survey and Post-forum Questionnaires The results suggest some interesting trends in the different ways the two groups approached the issue. The results show a number of striking similarities. Forum participants were a bit more likely to agree that racial and ethnic diversity is a source of the country’s strength. 22 Kettering Foundation To compare the views of forum participants to those of the general public, Braun Research, on behalf of Doble Research, conducted telephone interviews with 403 randomly sampled Americans, asking them the same questions that forum participants answered in post-forum questionnaires. Since forum participants do not comprise a random sample, sampling error between the two groups cannot be determined with statistical precision. However, the results suggest some interesting trends in the different ways the two groups approached the issue. First, however, the results show a number of striking similarities. Both forum participants and the public rejected ending bilingual education programs in the schools if that made it harder for immigrant children to do well at first. Only 27 percent of forum participants and 29 percent of the public were in favor and about twothirds of both groups opposed. Both groups also felt that immigrants have a generally positive economic impact (73 percent among forum participants and 64 percent among the public) and opposed reducing the number of immigrants admitted each year if this meant keeping families apart and turning away refugees (65 percent among participants and 61 percent among the public). There was a modest difference between the two groups on one question: forum participants were a bit more likely to agree that racial and ethnic diversity is a source of the country’s strength, but both groups overwhelmingly endorsed the statement, with 83 percent of forum participants and 71 percent of the public in agreement. On some other questions, there seemed, at first glance, to be little difference in the response patterns of the two groups. However, a closer look reveals a more complex and suggestive pattern. For instance, even though about two-thirds of both groups agree that current levels of immigration strain social services, only 23 percent of forum participants “strongly” agree compared to 47 percent of the public. Similarly, about 70 percent among both groups agree that the country should maintain a computerized system to track foreign students and workers, but only 37 percent of forum participants are “strongly” in favor compared to 59 percent of the public. Also, while large majorities of both participants and the public believe that immigrants should be required to learn English, the difference in the percentage “strongly” voicing this view is again pronounced, with 45 percent of forum participants “strongly” agreeing compared to 72 percent
  • 26. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration of the public. These results may suggest that, after hearing other points of view, forum participants may be less inclined to take an extreme position and more inclined to look for a common-ground solution. A third area of comparison involves questions in which there are sharp differences between forum participants and the general public. Participants were far less likely to favor drastically reducing the number of immigrants admitted into the U.S. each year, with 33 percent in favor, compared to 55 percent of the public. Participants were also much more likely to favor admitting more refugees fleeing persecution (68 percent versus 47 percent) and providing financial relief to states with especially large numbers of immigrants (55 percent versus 34 percent). Additionally, the national survey results indicate some strong differences between younger people and older people in their attitudes towards immigrants. In general, younger people tend to be more accepting of newcomers with, for example, 58 percent of people 65 and over agreeing that the growing numbers of newcomers threaten American customs and values versus only 18 percent of people in the 18-30 age group. Taken together, these results suggest three things: • On certain basic questions, forum participants are likely to hold views that are generally in line with the public as a whole. • The forum process leaves people more open to considering—not accepting but willing to consider— measures to deal with a difficult public issue that are at least tolerable to people with opposing views. If this interpretation stands up, it suggests that public deliberation in National Issues Forums reduces polarization, a result that has important implications for a democratic society in an era when people spend more and more time “cocooning” or “bowling alone” and getting their news from sources that typically re-enforce their own points of view. • Third, forums lead people to become more accepting of certain tradeoffs to solve pressing and complex public issues. By publicly deliberating about an issue for up to three hours, hearing other people’s points of views, and weighing the pros and cons and tradeoffs of various approaches, participants’ thinking on this complex issue tended to become more flexible, reflective, and more open. The public, by contrast, tended to respond based with initial, top-of-the-head reactions that in some respects, were more extreme. Additionally, the public appeared to be less inclined to accept tradeoffs or look for common ground to deal with immigration. These results may suggest that after hearing other points of view, forum participants may be less inclined to take an extreme position and more inclined to look for a common-ground solution. On certain basic questions, forum participants are likely to hold views that are generally in line with the public as a whole. The forum process leaves people more open to considering measures to deal with a difficult public issue that are at least tolerable to people with opposing views. Forums lead people to become more accepting of certain tradeoffs to solve pressing and complex public issues. The public appeared to be less inclined to accept tradeoffs or look for common ground to deal with immigration. November 2005 23
  • 27. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Appendix B: National Survey and Forum Questionnaires Table 1 Questions in Which There Are Little or No Differences Between Responses Discontinue bilingual language programs in schools, EVEN IF this makes it harder for immigrant children to do well in school at first. Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Favor” Forum 27% Survey 29% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Favor” Keep immigration at present levels, EVEN IF this means accepting more unskilled workers who will need social services. Forum 36% Survey 30% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Agree” Immigrants have a positive economic impact. Forum 73% Survey 64% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Agree” Emphasizing cultural differences is more likely to drive Americans apart than bring them together. Forum 46% Survey 46% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Favor” Reduce the number of immigrants, EVEN IF this means keeping families apart and turning away refugees from persecution. Forum Survey 24 Kettering Foundation 24% 33%
  • 28. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Table 2 Questions in Which There Are Moderate Differences Between Responses Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Favor” All immigrants should be required to learn English so they will be more quickly assimilated. Forum 77% Survey 87% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Agree” Racial and ethnic diversity is a main source of the country’s strength. Forum 83% Survey 71% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Favor” Maintain a computerized system to carefully track all foreign students and workers. Forum 68% Survey 74% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Agree” Current levels of immigration strain already overburdened social services. Forum 62% Survey 69% Percentages may not add up due to rounding. November 2005 25
  • 29. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Table 3 Questions in Which There Are Sharp Differences Between Responses Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Favor” Drastically reduce the number of immigrants we admit now. Forum 33% Survey 55% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Agree” By working for lower pay, low-skilled immigrants displace U.S. workers. Forum 42% Survey 59% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Favor” Admit more refugees fleeing from religious and political persecution. Forum 68% Survey 47% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Agree” The main terrorist threat comes from persons arriving from abroad. Forum 47% Survey 65% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Favor” Provide financial relief to states like California and Texas with especially large numbers of immigrants. Forum 55% Survey 34% Total Percent “Strongly/Somewhat Favor” Admit more skilled workers to fill critical occupations. Forum Survey Percentages may not add up due to rounding. 26 Kettering Foundation 72% 59%
  • 30. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Appendix C: Post-forum Questionnaire Results Table 4 Do you agree or disagree with the statements below? Total Percent “Agree” Total Percent “Disagree” Total Percent “Not Sure”/NA Emphasizing cultural differences is more likely to drive Americans apart than to bring them together. 46% 47% 7% The main terrorist threat to the U.S. comes from persons who arrive here from abroad. 47% 45% 8% The country’s racial and ethnic diversity is a main source of its strength. 83% 12% 5% Immigrants have a positive economic impact on this country. 73% 19% 8% Current levels of immigration strain already overburdened social services such as education and health care. 62% 27% 11% By working for lower pay, low-skilled immigrants displace U.S. workers. 42% 50% 8% Percentages may not add up due to rounding. November 2005 27
  • 31. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Table 5 Total Percent “Favor” Total Percent “Oppose” Total Percent “Not Sure”/NA The government should maintain a computerized system to carefully track all foreign students and workers. 68% 27% 5% All immigrants should be required to learn English so they will be more quickly assimilated. 77% 20% 3% We should admit more refugees fleeing from religious and political persecution. 68% 21% 10% We should admit more skilled workers to fill critical occupational shortages in fields like nursing. 72% 21% 7% The U.S. should drastically reduce the number of immigrants it admits now. 33% 58% 10% We should provide financial relief to states like California and Texas that have especially large numbers of immigrants. 55% 31% 14% Total Percent “Favor” Total Percent “Oppose” Total Percent “Not Sure”/NA We should discontinue bilingual language programs in schools, EVEN IF this makes it harder for immigrant children to do well in school at first. 27% 66% 7% We should keep immigration at present levels, EVEN IF this means accepting more unskilled workers who will need social services. 36% 48% 16% We should reduce the numbers of immigrants allowed into this country, EVEN IF this means keeping families apart and turning away refugees from persecution. 24% 65% 11% Do you favor or oppose these actions? Table 6 Do you favor or oppose the statements listed below? Percentages may not add up due to rounding. 28 Kettering Foundation
  • 32. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Table 7 How many National Issues Forums have you attended, including this one? Percent 1-3 81% 4-6 6% 7 or more 3% Not sure 5% No answer 6% Percentages may not add up due to rounding. November 2005 29
  • 33. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Appendix D: Demographics Gender Survey Percent of Total Forum Percent of Total Female 51% 52% Male 49% 44% No answer 0% 5% Ethnicity Survey Percent of Total Forum Percent of Total 11% 6% Asian American 3% 3% Hispanic 8% 8% Native American 3% 3% White/Caucasian 73% 73% 2% 4% African American Other Survey Percent of Total Forum Percent of Total – 19% 18-30 25% 31% 31-45 32% 9% 46-64 28% 16% 65 or older 15% 21% No answer – 4% Age 17 or younger Percentages may not add up due to rounding. 30 Kettering Foundation
  • 34. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Appendix E: Methodology People who participated in the NIF forums analyzed for this report are a sample of thousands of people who continue to deliberate about this issue in communities across the country. Forum participants represented in this report came from the following states and communities: 41 States & DC Shaded States = Where forum participants live National Issues Forums Methodology In preparing this analysis of people’s thinking about The New Challenges of American Immigration: What Should We Do? Doble Research drew on a sample of forums in 41 states plus the District of Columbia from the hundreds of forums that took place across the country. Six research methods were used: Moderator Interviews We conducted telephone interviews with moderators who led forums in 23 locations. We asked them to describe participants’ main concerns, their starting points on the issue, the costs and conse- quences they took into consideration, and the shared understanding or common ground for action that emerged. The forums were held at: 1. Center for Undergraduate Research, Athens, GA 2. Centerville Public Library, Centerville, OH 3. Clemson University, Sumter, SC 4. Cooper Center for Public Service, Charlottesville, VA 5. Donnelly Ctr. of Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI 6. Franklin Pierce College, Rindge, NH 7. Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Ctr., Moorhead, MN 8. Hudson Valley Comm. College, Troy, NY November 2005 31
  • 35. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration 9. Immanuel Lutheran Assembly Hall, Boonville, MO 10. LaPorte County Public Library, LaPorte, IN 11. McHenry County College, Crystal Lake, IL interviewed two participants and the moderator after each forum. These forums were held at: 1. Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Parish Hall, Rapid City, SD 12. Mesa Community College, Mesa, AZ 2. Florida State University, Panama City, FL 13. Middlesex County College, Edison, NJ 3. Sumter Citizens Coalition, Sumter, SC 14. Montgomery College, Rockville, MD 4. West Islip High School, West Islip, NY 15. Montgomery County Library, Blacksburg, VA Videotaped Forums 16. Natl. Society for Experiential Education Conf., Miami, FL We analyzed five videotaped forums. 1. Cedar Rapids, IA 17. Sorenson Inst. for Pol. Leadership, Charlottesville, VA 2. El Paso, TX 18. Spanish Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI 4. Mesa, AZ 19. State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Div., Ankeny, IA 20. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Georgetown, DE 3. Georgetown, DE 5. Rindge, NH Online Deliberation We analyzed one online deliberation. 21. West Virginia Center for Civic Life, Charleston, WV 1. CYFERnet—A Centra Conference— April 20, 2004 22. Whitney Senior Center, St. Cloud, MN Questionnaire Results 23. Wyatt Park Baptist Church, St. Joseph, MO Special thanks to the convenors and moderators who shared their forum reflections with us: Barbara Brown, Joel Diemond, Michael D’Innocenzo, Joni Doherty, Connie Gahagan, Nancy Gansneder, Trish Hatfield, Reverend Karl Heimer, Ron Higginbotham, Melvin Hines, Jr., Sandra Hodge, Terry Jack, Liz Keegan, Dean Larkin, Bill McGowan, Kevin McGowan, Dennis Minzes, Karen Nitzkorski, Carole Paterson, Cindy Pederson, Bernie Ronan, Mario Rosa, Reena Shetty, Rebecca Strong, Jim Walters, David Wilkinson, Anne Wolford, Ruth Yellowhawk, and Virginia York. Also, special thanks to Milton Hoffman Productions. Forum Observations We observed four National Issues Forums, listening to initial concerns and learning how deliberation influenced people’s thinking. In addition, we 32 Kettering Foundation After a forum, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire that frames the issue and identifies key tradeoffs for different choices. We analyzed a total of 1073 post-forum questionnaires along with a total of 403 telephone interviews with a national probability sample of American adults, 18 and over. Research Forums We conducted four research forums or focus groups, each with a demographically representative cross section of up to one dozen people. Sites were selected in areas where immigration is an important issue and where NIF forums had not been held. The sessions paralleled NIF forums in that participants viewed the starter video, deliberated together about the three choices for about three hours and filled out the post-forum questionnaires. Findings were similar to those in the NIF forums. The research forums were held in: 1. San Diego, CA—February 23, 2005 2. Scottsdale, AZ—February 24, 2005 3. Salt Lake City, UT—June 1, 2005 4. Seattle, WA—June 2, 2005
  • 36. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration National Survey Methodology Doble Research Associates engaged Braun Research of Princeton, New Jersey, to conduct a total of 403 telephone interviews with a national probability or random sample of Americans between June 28 and July 1, 2005. Details on the design, execution, and analysis of the survey are discussed below. Braun Research conducted 10-minute-long telephone interviews with 403 randomly sampled United States adult residents, age 18 and over, yielding a sampling error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. Design and Data Collection Procedures Sample Design The sample was designed to represent the U.S. adult population in telephone households. The telephone samples were provided by Braun Research and drawn using standard list-assisted random digit dialing (RDD) methodology. Questionnaire Development and Testing The questionnaire was developed by Doble Research Associates. To improve the quality of the data, the questionnaire was pre-tested with a small number of respondents using RDD methodology by Braun Research. The pre-test interviews were monitored by Doble Research staff and conducted using experienced interviewers who could best judge the quality of the answers given and what questions may have caused problems for the respondents. One change was made to the questionnaire after the pre-test, based on the monitored pre-test interviews. Contact Procedures Interviews were conducted between June 28 and July 1, 2005. As many as eight attempts were made to contact every sampled telephone number. Samples were released for interviewing in replicates, which are representative sub-samples of the larger sample. Using replicates to control the release of sample ensures that complete call procedures are followed for the entire sample. It also ensures that the geographic distribution of numbers is appropriate. Calls were staggered over the days of the week to maximize the chance of making contact with potential respondents. Each household received at least six evening calls in an attempt to find someone at home. In each contacted household, interviewers asked to speak with the youngest male over 18 currently at home. If no male was available, interviewers asked to speak with the youngest female over 18. To qualify for the interview, respondents had to be a resident of the United States. Weighting and Analysis While weighting is generally used in survey analysis to compensate for patterns of non-response that might bias results, this sample of all adults was not weighted to match U.S. parameters since most key demographics fell within the margin of error as confirmed by the 2000 U.S. census. Verification To verify the study, senior fieldwork managers from Braun Research monitored 14.1 percent of the interviews as calls were being made. In addition, Braun Research randomly re-contacted 10 percent of the interviews. No re-contacted respondents reported being unfamiliar with the interviews. Response Rate The response rate estimates the percentage of all eligible respondents in the sample that were ultimately interviewed. We calculated it by taking the product of two component rates. Cooperation rate: the proportion of contacted numbers at which consent for an interview was at least initially obtained, versus those who refused was 38.2 percent. Completion rate: the proportion of initially cooperating and eligible interviews that were completed was 96.4 percent. Response rate: for this survey was 36.8 percent. November 2005 33
  • 37. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Appendix F: Forum Transcript Excerpts An Example of Deliberation about English and Assimilation El Paso, Texas, January 2005 Female: People would assimilate quicker if they knew the language. A big part of assimilating in the United States is that you learn to speak English. And I know it’s more of a problem here on the border than it is in other parts of the country because we really don’t have to speak English to live in El Paso. I have a friend from South America and she never has to use English here. Female: I think we’re defining our culture a lot of different ways. People are afraid to have their culture change. But there are some basic values that are a part of who we are, and democracy and language are a part of that. We can assimilate a lot of things about a lot of different cultures and change the face of who we are, and that’s a good thing, a positive thing, and an enriching thing. But the core of our values doesn’t have to change as a result. Male: You’ve got to examine why the people that come here from other countries do come here. I mean, they’re seeking what we have. So there’s no reason to abandon your heritage or give up the history of your family and where you came from, but there’s [also] no reason to say: ‘We want to come here and then we want to change it to what we just left.’ A language is a big part of it. The trouble is as soon as you say, ‘I think you ought to learn English,’ the term ‘English Only’ comes out.… English is something that binds us. It’s the most spoken language in the country and I think those people that move here need to learn that. But that doesn’t mean that they should lose the language of their heritage and such. President Bush, when he was governor of Texas talked about English Plus. We should have English because that’s the thing that binds us, but speak two or three languages—that’s great. Male: Most immigrants by the second or third generation have adopted the language and the culture. American culture is just so strong through TV, through movies that it overwhelms the immigrants’ children eventually. So I don’t think it’s a problem. They’re worried about the Balkanization of the country, that it would threaten national unity. I think that’s a red herring. 34 Kettering Foundation
  • 38. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration An Example of Deliberation about Economic Benefits of Immigrants Georgetown, Delaware, February 2005 Male: Immigrants in Georgetown have been an economic benefit to this community in … that they provide skilled or unskilled employees … particularly in the poultry industry [and] now in the construction industry.… If you’re a homebuyer and you want to talk to these construction crews about how they’re building your house, you need to take an interpreter with you. Male: In … farming, you get the cheapest labor you can because you don’t know what you’ll get when you take a product to the market. You’ll … get what someone wants to give you.… We are a nation of cheap, cheap food.… How does [that] happen? Because we import from foreign countries where they have cheap labor, and the only way [U.S. farmers] can stay in existence is we’ve got to come in with labor that’s comparable. Male: Immigrants can actually help the United States … [because] we’re going to have to look to these people just to be able to compete. One-third of the people in India are making less than a buck a day, so let’s hope we have lots of immigrants come here that will work for less than $25 an hour if we want to save this nation. Male: Talk about the economics. Well, if we were to try to stop the immigration, if we were to try to close our borders up more, that’s a cost in itself. How much does it cost to put people out on our borders to watch it, or put up a fence? You know they’ll find a way to get through the fence anyway if they want it badly enough. Female: You need a balance because if you bring only professional immigrants, you’re going to have immigrants teaching in universities [and] … in the medical fields, [and] in economics and science. And then what’s going to happen with the American people? Are they the ones who are going to work at the poultry plant? And then there’s … another problem. Male: We’re also draining those countries of their skilled people, all the Filipino nurses here; there’s no Filipino nurses left in the Philippines.… There’s definitely a brain drain. November 2005 35
  • 39. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration An Example of Deliberation about Illegal Immigrants Scottsdale, Arizona, March 2005 Male: What bothers me is people who will … hire illegals.… The illegals are the real problem because it’s a total drain everywhere.… I could go down to the corner and have some guys jump in the pickup, take care of my lawn.… But I absolutely refuse to [because they may not be legal]. That’s just being part of the problem. Male: I’d rather give them a job than have them steal from me. [They] need money to live, you know. There are two sides to this thing. Male: That is our biggest problem—the illegals. Not so much the legals, but the illegals that are … draining the services and not contributing that to the society. Male: We were rear ended by a guy.… He backs up and drove off because he’s illegal and has no license or insurance.… The cop says, oh, they’re Guatemalans, there’s a whole nest of illegals down there. Female: But how’d this happen? Male: They have what they call “coyote tours.” Female: And they bring illegals. Male: They drop people off from Mexico and illegally stash them. They drop them in a drop house or leave the van out in the middle of the desert and these people die. Female: They try and get as much money [as possible]—[the illegal immigrants] have already paid to come over and now they’re [trying] to get more money, [so they] keep them in a house until they can get some more money to these coyotes. Male: They ought to skin those coyotes, but that’s beside the point. Male: Exactly, they get the money upfront and then they just, they don’t care. 36 Kettering Foundation
  • 40. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Appendix G: Developing the Issue Book and Linking NIF to Public Television (PBS) When the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) made plans to broadcast The New Americans, a three-part documentary that followed five families of immigrants from their countries of origin to the U.S., the producers of the series decided to put together an accompanying outreach campaign to engage people around the nation in constructive conversations about immigration. Diane Eisenberg, the Executive Director of the Council on Public Policy Education (CPPE) and a long-time associate of the Kettering Foundation, had approached Gordon Quinn, the show’s producer, about creating an NIF issue book on the subject. Quinn recognized that the nationwide NIF network would be an ideal adjunct to the PBS series. From NIF’s point of view, the opportunity to link an issue book with a public television series was a win-win situation. Thus NIF became one of four groups involved in the outreach campaign to complement The New Americans. The others were: the Independent Television Service, which produced an interactive Web site that provided downloadable outreach materials and a community engagement map; Active Voice, which focused on policy issues and developing video modules and companion materials for advocates, teachers, and others; and Outreach Extensions, which distributed outreach materials developed for Spanish-speaking communities, especially targeting new Latino immigrants. November 2005 37
  • 41. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Appendix H: Issue Map Approach One Approach Two America’s Changing Face— Is There Too Much Difference? A Nation of Immigrants— Remembering America’s Heritage Immigration built America. Yes, there are short-term costs but, over the long run, immigration will keep us great. We cannot abandon refugees who, like our forefathers, seek freedom. We must welcome newcomers, but find better ways to support them and help them grow into Americans. AP/Wide World Photos AP/Wide World Photos Limit the number of newcomers. Otherwise, America risks losing its soul, its definition of itself. When people live in tight little ethnic communities, when they speak only a foreign language and call home often, they don’t assimilate. English is the common language of our culture. If we lose our language, we lose all our other bonds—including our shared definition of democracy. Besides, September 11, 2001, proves that some immigrants wish ill upon America. What Should Be Done? • Admit more refugees. • Give refugees a better chance to prove persecution. • Expand family-sponsored immigration. What Should Be Done? • Allow more skilled workers into the country. • Admit fewer immigrants. • Negotiate a new immigration policy with Mexico. • Warn local communities of impending immigration, so they can plan. • Subsidize local governments who aid large numbers of immigrants. • Make immigrants, adults and children, learn to speak English. Dangers, Drawbacks, Tradeoffs • • English-only initiatives can create prejudice against immigrants. • Immigrants always cling to the home country, but their children continue to adopt America’s culture. • 38 We may lose our definition of tolerance. Immigrants keep our country vibrant and adaptable. Kettering Foundation Dangers, Drawbacks, Tradeoffs • Without limits, the lifeboat that is America could capsize, drowning us all. • Caring for and educating all of these newcomers costs American taxpayers. • Americans in low-wage jobs suffer. • Citizens’ wages don’t go up because immigrants will work for less. • Americans even lose jobs to immigrant competitors.
  • 42. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration Approach Three A Matter of Priorities— Putting Economics First AP/Wide World Photos Limit the number of newcomers. Their arrival impacts those who are already here. Immigration costs American citizens. Competition from immigrants keeps wages down and even takes jobs away from Americans. We pay higher taxes to support education and social services for newcomers. What Should Be Done? • Admit fewer immigrants. • Keep out immigrants who would take jobs from Americans. • Focus immigration on skilled workers. • Help out taxpayers in communities where immigrants settle. • Stop illegal immigration. Dangers, Drawbacks, Tradeoffs • Immigrants get blamed for problems they do not cause. • People will have no safe haven from tyranny. • There will be no workers to do the unskilled jobs Americans refuse to accept. • Immigrants are a critical part of the U.S. economy. November 2005 39
  • 43. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration About Doble Research Associates The formation of public opinion about complex issues is a dynamic process, a work in progress, not a finished product. Doble Research, a nonpartisan, public-interest consulting firm, maps out people’s thinking by identifying what they think before learning more about an issue, then laying out how their thinking evolves as they consider other points of view and have time to deliberate. We help clients understand how and why people feel as they do—a map, not a snapshot.™ Clients and Partner Organizations: Foundations Center for Crime, Communities, and Culture (Open Society Institute/The Soros Foundation) Chiesman Foundation for Democracy Englewood Community Foundation Fetzer Institute Walter and Elise Haas Fund Hager Educational Foundation The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation W.K. Kellogg Foundation Kettering Foundation Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Peninsula Community Foundation The Pew Charitable Trust Public Life Foundation of Owensboro (PLFO) Seva Foundation Government Agencies Board of Pardons and Parole, State of Georgia Department of Corrections, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Department of Corrections, State of Indiana Department of Corrections, State of Vermont Environmental Protection Agency The Governor’s Family Council, State of Delaware National Institute of Corrections (NIC) National Institute of Justice (NIJ) National Parks Service, Nebraska Vermont Commission on Public Healthcare Values and Priorities The State of Vermont Department of Corrections Public-service Organizations American Judicature Society Audubon Area Community Services, Owensboro, Kentucky Buckeye Association for School Administrators Center for Community Corrections Center for Effective Public Policy Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM) Cleveland Summit on Education The Council of Governors’ Policy Advisors The Council of State Governments, Eastern Regional Office The Crime & Justice Institute The Educational and Social Science Consortium General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) The Harwood Institute 40 Kettering Foundation International Research & Exchanges (IREX), Ukraine National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) National Conference of State Legislatures National Academy of Social Insurance National Environmental Policy Institute (NEPI) National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) The North Carolina Council of Churches The North Carolina State-Centered Project The Oklahoma State-Centered Project The Pennsylvania Prison Society Points of Light Foundation Public Agenda The South Carolina State-Centered Project Southern Growth Policies Board Southern Regional Council Study Circle Resources Center (SCRC) The Upper Room Weavings, A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life The West Virginia Center for Civic Life Western Governors’ Association States The State of Indiana The State of New Hampshire The State of North Carolina (Sentencing Commission) The State of Oregon The State of South Carolina Colleges and Universities College of DuPage The Institute on Criminal Justice, University of Minnesota The Mershon Center at The Ohio State University University of California at Davis University of Delaware Corporations Clark, Martire & Bartolomeo, Inc. Simon and Schuster, Prentice Hall Division Weiner’s Stores, Inc.
  • 44. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration About National Issues Forums National Issues Forums (NIF) is a nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally sponsored public forums for the consideration of public-policy issues. It is rooted in the simple notion that people need to come together to reason and talk—to deliberate about common problems. Indeed, democracy requires an ongoing deliberative public dialogue. These forums, organized by a variety of organizations, groups, and individuals, bring people together to talk about public issues. They range from small or large group gatherings similar to town hall meetings, to study circles held in public places or in people’s homes on an ongoing basis. Forums focus on an issue, such as health care, immigration, Social Security, or ethnic and racial tensions. The forums provide a way for people of diverse views and experiences to seek a shared understanding of the problem and to search for common ground for action. Forums are led by trained, neutral moderators and use an issue, discussion guide that frames the issue, presenting the overall problem and then three or four broad approaches to the problem. Forum participants work through the issue by considering each approach; examining what appeals to them or concerns them and what the costs, consequences, and tradeoffs may be that would be incurred in following that approach. November 2005 41
  • 45. Public Thinking about the New Challenges of American Immigration About the Kettering Foundation The Charles F. Kettering Foundation was founded in 1927 “to sponsor and carry out scientific research for the benefit of humanity.” Inspired by the open-mindedness and creative philosophy of its founder, the American inventor Charles F. Kettering, the foundation’s work has expanded to include research on education, community politics, and democracy. A founder of DELCO, the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company, Kettering’s innovative work brought him more than 200 patents, the most notable of which is the electric automobile self-starter. At the foundation, his conviction that new ideas can best be developed through a cooperative team effort was applied to a wide variety of problems—everything from explaining why grass is green to understanding how paint dries. Included in those interests were a broad range of social and political problems, issues like world hunger and political instability. Kettering believed in sticking with big problems and taking them on in all their complexity, not breaking them into pieces. One needed, he was fond of saying, to “learn how to fail intelligently”—to develop and test new ideas and then to learn from what happened. Few important questions, he believed, were simple. One had to get at “the problem behind the problem.” During Kettering’s lifetime, the foundation’s work focused on projects he found interesting: basic 42 Kettering Foundation scientific research on photosynthesis and cancer, as well as grants to promote scientific education and workstudy programs at colleges and universities. Building on these varied interests in the 1960s, the trustees began to explore new areas like civic education and governmental affairs. Major projects included I/D/E/A/ (Institute for Development of Educational Activities, Inc.), which worked to use the latest theories of primary and secondary education to change the way children were taught, and the Dartmouth Conferences, a series of high-level discussions between prominent citizens of the United States and the Soviet Union. (The foundation began to co-sponsor the conferences in 1969.) In the early 1970s, Kettering reorganized itself as a private operating foundation. Instead of making grants, the foundation began conducting its own research. Working with outside collaborators, Kettering staff began exploring fields like education, urban affairs, science and technology, and international relations. As that work evolved, researchers at the foundation began to believe that lasting solutions to the world’s problems were increasingly social and political in nature rather than technical and scientific. Moving away from its tradition of basic scientific research, the foundation began to focus on basic political research—striving to understand how citizens and political systems can work together. Since the early 1990s, the foundation has worked on strategies to strengthen democracy. The primary question addressed by its research today is “What does it take to make democracy work as it should?”
  • 46. www.kettering.org 200 Commons Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459-2799 (937) 434-7300; (800) 221-3657 444 North Capitol Street, N. W., Washington, D.C. 20001 (202) 393-4478 6 East 39th Street, New York, New York 10016 (212) 686-7016

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