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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Public Opinion on Immigration

Karlyn Bowman, Eleanor O'Neil, Heather Sims write at AEI:
  • The ban: Hypothetical questions asked in the fall of 2016 and early this year about temporary or permanent bans on immigrants from areas with a history of terrorism produced mixed results. In most surveys that asked whether Muslims who were not US citizens should be banned from entering the US, a majority of Americans were opposed.
  • Syrian refugees: Historically, Americans have generally been unwelcoming toward refugees. In the current context, question wording matters: In October 2016, 54 percent said the United States did not have a responsibility to accept refugees from Syria (Pew Research Center), but in September, 61 percent said we should allow Syrian refugees who want to come to America to do so “as long as they go through a security clearance process” (CBS News).
  • The wall: Polls conducted after the November election showed around four in 10 supported building a wall along the border with Mexico; 55 percent to 60 percent opposed doing so. Around three-quarters didn’t believe Mexico will pay for a wall (Quinnipiac University, CBS News, ABC News/Washington Post).
  • Unauthorized immigrants: In January, 59 percent of registered voters said illegal immigrants currently living in the United States should be allowed to stay and eventually apply for citizenship, and 9 percent thought they should be allowed to stay but not be allowed to apply for citizenship. Twenty-five percent said they should be required to leave the country (Quinnipiac University). Sixty-five percent in an October 2016 CBS News poll said illegal immigrants coming to this country today mostly take jobs Americans don’t want; 25 percent said they take jobs away from American citizens.
  • Immigration overall: The first time Pew Research Center asked people about immigrants’ effect on the country in 1994, 63 percent said immigrants were “a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing, and health care.” In December 2016, an identical percentage gave the opposite response, saying “immigrants today strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents.” Although feelings have grown more positive, Americans remain divided on what the proper level of immigration should be. In the Gallup Organization’s latest poll from 2016, 38 percent said it should be decreased, while the same percentage said it should be kept at its present level. Twenty-one percent said it should be increased.