In an essay written in Forbes magazine, Paul Maidment discusses how immigrants today and in the early 1900s may not have sought permanent residence in the U.S. We often hear about immigrants coming to the U.S., but we don’t hear much about what happens after they arrive. Do they always establish lives on American soil and stay? Maidment addresses how people immigrate to the U.S. for political or religious reasons, but mostly he claims they seek to make money and support their families. He also talks about how a lot of early immigrants came to the U.S. to make money, and once they had collected their fill, returned to their home countries. Has this trend continued to modern day? Do immigrants view America as a permanent home or just a temporary residence? Are those immigrants that have stayed in America motivated by other reasons–such as religious freedom or democracy?
Maidment also acknowledges, “There is little new in the distrust generated by each incoming wave of immigrants,” suggesting an underlying suspicion with which immigrants are regarded. Yet it seems most Americans in general regard immigrants positively. Are some immigrants treated differently than others, depending on the countries from which they’re from? Could this distrust be contributing to immigrants’ desire to return home? Perhaps some immigrants arrive with the intention to return to their home countries, but certainly others consider the possibility of staying permanently. In a Gallup poll ranking countries on their Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI), or the percentage of immigrants who move out of their country compared to the number who choose to move to that country, America scores a 60%. This means there is a strong desire for immigrants to come the U.S., but it is definitely not the highest. In fact, countries like New Zealand and Australia boast PNMIs over 150%. Perhaps immigrating to America is not all that desirable today as it was in the early 1900s. We must ask the question then, do immigrants seeking the American Dream find it, or are they disappointed by what they find in the U.S. and return home?
http://www.gallup.com/poll/124193/potential-net-migration-change-developed-nations.aspx (PNMI data)