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Immigration Trends and Implications in the United States and Western Europe Compared: Public Opinion Explored

Daniel B. German, Dragan Stefanovic

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In this report the authors have endeavored to examine public opinion in the US and the original fifteen Western European Union (EU) nations as a way to compare the differences and similarities between the two. Public opinion is an important channel of political decision making influence in both geographic areas. There are definite similarities. First, in both the US and EU nations public opinion polls reveal that people have reached the limits of allowing immigration without more restrictions. Several polls in the US indicate that especially illegal immigration has got to be brought under control. A multination Eurobarometer survey indicates the same feeling among EU citizens. Second, it is interesting that neither the Americans nor the citizens of EU nations want to repatriate (expel) immigrants including the illegal immigrants. Americans are split on either giving all immigrants a work identification card or having immigrants become legitimate citizens as a requirement for staying in the US. Americans want a national identity card for all Americans so that illegal immigration could more easily be brought under control. In the EU, a passport is already required for immigrants coming from outside the newly expanded EU. Europeans want immigrants to stay, but insist on immigrants obeying the laws within each nation. In the EU most would remain as guest workers and few would become citizens. The barrier to citizenship in EU is the major difference compared to the US where obtaining citizenship is relatively easy.

Keywords: Immigration – public opinion – EU – United States – decision making