Britain – the most worried about immigration

UK and Italy agree on immigrant issues

18 November 2008. A survey about public opinion in the European Union and the United States has revealed that 62% of British respondents consider the immigration as more of a problem than an opportunity.

United Kingdom and Italy were found to be the most worried countries about legal, respectively illegal immigration. Both countries are the most keen to deport their illegal immigrants, with Italy being the most welcoming to legal immigrants.

The United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, and Poland had majorities defining immigration as “more of a problem,” while a large number in both France and the Netherlands said that it is “more of an opportunity.”

The Transatlantic Trends survey on immigration showed that only 40% of Americans and 35% of Europeans believe immigration leads to an increased risk of terrorism. But 52% of Europeans and 47% of Americans answered that immigration would result in more crime.

However, at least 80% of respondents in all surveyed countries called for stronger border controls, and more than 73% called for tougher sanctions on those who hire illegal immigrants.

Craig Kennedy, president of the German Marshall Fund that commissioned the survey, says the topic of immigration is especially important in light of today’s economic and national security challenges.

The research unveils that majorities in Europe and the United States support a policy of guaranteeing that legal immigrants "have the same rights to political participation as the country’s citizens" (58% in Europe and 59% in the United States). A close look at the U.S. opposition (37% overall) to granting political participation to immigrants reveals that 27% "strongly oppose" the measure. Nearly the same can be said for the United Kingdom, where the measure found overall support, but 22% of British respondents say they "strongly oppose" it.

A similar trend in the United States and the United Kingdom appears when respondents were asked whether immigrants should have access to the same social benefits as national citizens. 57% of the Brits support access to the same social benefits as national citizens, but 26% "strongly oppose" the policy. Elsewhere in Europe, the highest support overall for granting social benefits is found in Italy (90%), the Netherlands (83%), and France (81%).

The survey has measured broad public opinion in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. Researchers queried a random sample of about 1,000 men and women 18 years and older in each country.

In the 2008 Eurobarometer survey, 35% of British respondents (against an EU-27 average of 11%) named immigration as one of the biggest problems in their country.

The foreign-born population in the United Kingdom now stands at 6,116,400, over 10% of total population.

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