Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Racial, political lines divide Americans on whether immigrants threaten 'traditional values'

Source: Pew Research Center

There's a comprehensive new Pew Research Center report on American values, a far-reaching one based on surveys that takes in trends since the late 1980s. It charts the rise in partisan polarization, as well as where Americans lie in terms of their values regarding everything from business to religion.

And of course, their values regarding immigration and race.

A section of the report that focuses on immigration and race suggests that while a majority of Americans still prefer tighter immigration restrictions, the percentage of people sharing this view is declining. But people remain divided over whether newcomers threaten what they perceive as "traditional American customs and values."

And interestingly, there's a racial line drawn. In spite of a bump in optimism in 2009, shortly after the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, nearly two-thirds of black respondents said they believed there has been little if any improvement in the position of black Americans in recent years, a situation worsened by the economic downtown.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, there are more black Americans who view immigrant newcomers as "more of a threat to American values" than whites. According to Pew, 61 percent of black respondents shared this view, compared with 48 percent of whites and 29 percent of Latinos.

Also not surprising are educational and age lines, with younger, better-educated Americans tending to disagree more with the notion that immigrants pose this sort of threat. And of course, there are partisan lines: Sixty percent of Republicans surveyed said newcomers threatened "traditional American customs and values," compared with 39 percent of Democrats.

And as immigration politics, once of more a bipartisan affair, have become increasingly polarized, that gap has widened. Ten years ago, according to the report, 54 percent of Republicans saw newcomers as a threat to American values; 50 percent of Democrats back then said the same.

More Republicans also said it bothers them when immigrants speak little or no English. Also interesting is the educational breakdown on this one: Close to half (45 percent) of respondents without college degrees said it bothered them when immigrants spoke little or no English, while only 30 percent of college degree holders said this bothered them.

On the bright side for singles, the number of Americans who are accepting of interracial relationships continues to grow. This is especially true with the attitudes of "millenials," born in 1981 or later. Nearly all - 95 percent - of millenials surveyed said they accept interracial dating.

The complete section on immigration and race can be downloaded here.