Should Immigrants Assimilate or Retain Culture? 82% Say Both

When immigrants move permanently to the United States, 82% of voters believe they should both assimilate and become part of American culture while retaining their own unique cultural heritage. That total includes 51% who believe the top priority for immigrants should assimilation and 31% who believe retaining their heritage is most important.

A national survey found that just 6% believe immigrants should assimilate and not retain their own cultural heritage. Only 3% believe they should retain their heritage without learning American cultural traditions and language.

These views are consistent with data released earlier showing that most voters believe the U.S. has a unique culture created and shaped by blending many varied and separate cultures over the years.

Overall, 63% of voters said assimilating into that culture should be the top priority for immigrants. Among that group, 80% also believe immigrants should also retain some of the traditions from their own cultural heritage.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of voters believe that immigrants should prioritize retaining their own heritage. Among that group, 84% believe the immigrants should also learn American cultural traditions and language.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters under 50 believe assimilation should be the top priority, a view shared by 73% of older voters. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of white voters see assimilation as more important along with 56% of Hispanic voters. However, a majority of black voters (59%) believe permanent immigrants should focus more on retaining their own cultural heritage.

Hispanic voters are the most likely to say that immigrants should assimilate without retaining their own heritage. Ten percent (10%) hold that view. At the same time, Hispanic voters are the most likely to hold the opposite view and reject assimilation. Eight percent (8%) share that perspective.

On a partisan basis, 80% of Republicans see assimilating as the top goal along with 65% of Independent voters. Democrats are more evenly divided. Fifty-four percent (54%) of white Democrats believe assimilation should be the top goal, 62% of non-white Democrats take the opposite view.

Still, while there may be differences of emphasis, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Americans believe those who move to the U.S. permanently should both assimilate into American culture while retaining some of their own cultural traditions.

The survey also found that 48% believe most immigrants desire to become part of the broader American culture. Men are more likely than women to hold this view. Overall, among all voters, 25% disagree and 27% are not sure.

Forty-one percent (41%) believe most Americans are open to allowing immigrant culture to help shape and influence American culture. Thirty-two percent (32%) disagree and 27% are not sure. On this question, women are evenly divided. Thirty-five percent (35%) believe most Americans are open while 33% disagree. Men, by a 47% to 31% margin, are a bit more optimistic (see question wording and crosstab results).

This survey was conducted to further’s mission to enhance the public dialogue through data-driven analysis that explores the underlying currents of public opinion (read About Us).

We release 4 to 8 items of new public opinion data every day relating to topics in the news and items of interest (sign up to receive daily email updates). Those daily releases include the president’s job approval and the generic congressional ballot.

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The national survey of 1,004 Registered Voters was conducted January 31-February 1, 2019 by and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology and the demographic profile of our sample). It has a +/- 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.

Neither Scott Rasmussen nor has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).


Posted in Poll Results

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