Three stats & a map

by Dawn Araujo-Hawkins

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Language and immigration

When (now former) U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost the Virginia Republican primary in early June, pundits nationwide declared that his loss also meant the end of any hope that immigration reform would pass Congress – legislation that is of great concern to religious leaders in the U.S.

In fact, this spring, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops migration arm celebrated Mass on the U.S.-Mexico border in honor of those suffering “because of our broken immigration system,” and ecumenical groups have lobbied Congress in favor of immigration reform. However, despite the efforts of religious leaders, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center survey of Christians, most lay Americans say religion does not impact their opinion on immigration.

According to the survey:

  • While 35 percent of Americans said religion was the most important influence on their view of same-sex marriage, only 7 percent said it was the most important influence on their view of immigration.
  • A quarter of churchgoers said immigration was discussed in church, but Catholic priests were more likely than other clergy to talk about it. Thirty-two percent of Catholics said they had heard clergy talk about immigration as compared to 29 percent of black Protestants, 16 percent of white evangelicals, and 15 percent of white mainline Protestants.
  • People attending churches where the clergy discussed immigration were more likely to have a favorable view of immigrants. More than half – 52 percent – of those whose clergy had spoken about immigration agreed with the statement “immigrants work hard and are not a burden.” Conversely, only 38 percent of those whose clergy did not speak about immigration agreed.

Where are your communities’ immigrants from? This map from Mental Floss shows the most commonly spoken language after English and Spanish in each U.S. state.