A recent report by Gallup based on a two-year rolling survey in 154 countries places the United States as the number one immigrant destination in the world.
Based on Gallup’s data, 138 million people worldwide would voluntarily leave their country to immigrate to the United States. If that happened, it would increase the American population by 46 percent. The number of people expressing a desire to immigrate to the United States is triple the number desiring to immigrate to the next most-desired immigrant destination, Great Britain. This is a stunning rebuttal of anti-Americanism, cultural and political, as seen in other surveys.
Unfortunately the data set released by Gallup is only a small piece of what the company holds relating to global opinion relating to the intent to immigrate. This is an important piece of opinion because it closes the ground between global public opinion about the United States and actual public practice. An example of what I’m talking about — which will be more fully examined in my forthcoming book — is demonstrated in the partial data set Gallup released. Gallup lists, among others, the “likeliest” US-bound immigrants to originate from China, India and Brazil, in that order (among others) — that is, three of the self-styled most dynamic economies in the world. Based on Gallup’s data, 1.5 percent of the Chinese population would leave China for the United States, not including other destinations. To fill out the BRICs, I would like to see the numbers on Russia — which has faced a duel problem of population decline and emigration increase — where much official and semi-official anti-American sentiment has originated.
As a friend (I met the report’s author, Jon Clifton, as part of my work for NATO) I would question the data on China and Iran. The Gallup reports low desire among Iranians to immigrate to the United States. This may be artificially low in part because most of those who wanted to immigrate and could have already left (an estimated 1.2 million Iranians live in the United States alone, representing about 1.6 percent of Iran’s population) and because of the fraught political state of the country. It may simply not be safe for Iranians to offer anything other than officially approved anti-American opinions to anyone. While China is probably less strictly policed politically, I would suggest the same conditions apply there. It’s probably higher than it already is.
The most politically interesting and contentious data sets, therefore, are those not released publicly by Gallup so far — e.g., Cuba, Venezuela, Belarus, and Russia (see map, above). I recognize the desire for Gallup to monetize its surveys. But in the interest of American public diplomacy, I would ask Gallup to release the entire data set relating to international immigration. We can only learn more from it.