Jan 24, 2019

High-skilled immigration remains popular in anti-immigrant nations

Adapted from a Pew Research Center report using data from Spring 2018 Global Attitude Survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

Most of those calling for less immigration overall actually support high-skilled immigration, according to an international survey released this week — a counterpoint to the immigration backlash that has upended politics in the U.S. and other countries.

Why it matters: A majority of people who want to cut immigration levels do not necessarily see all immigrants as threats to their job security, but support bringing in foreign workers for highly technical jobs. As fights over asylum, the border and unauthorized immigration rage, the survey is a reminder that the opposition to immigration isn't across the board.

The big picture: More than half of respondents from 10 of the 12 nations surveyed by the Pew Research Center said they support high-skilled immigration (Israel and Italy were the exceptions). In the U.S., 78% said they supported high-skilled immigrants.

  • But only two countries had immigrant populations where more than half had attained a college degree — Canada and Australia.
  • The U.S. has the highest number of college-educated immigrants, but they only make up around a third of the total U.S. immigrant population.

Between the lines: Immigrants — high-skilled, low-skilled and even unauthorized — play a crucial role in the American labor force beyond high-skilled jobs. The industries that most depend on unauthorized immigrant workers in the U.S., for example, include agriculture, construction and leisure/hospitality, according to an earlier study by Pew.

  • Immigrant workers could be key in maintaining high economic growth as the U.S. population ages and fertility rates drop.
  • "The Pew study shows the public clearly recognizes the great value high-skilled foreigners bring to America, and the critical role they play in our industries and communities nationwide," Jeff Lande of the Lande Group, which represents India-based IT companies, told Axios.

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