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Americans More Positive About Effects of Immigration

Americans More Positive About Effects of Immigration
by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • U.S. adults are more likely than in 2007 to say immigrants make things better
  • Majority of Americans say immigrants make "food, music and the arts" better
  • Democrats have more positive views of immigration's effects than Republicans

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are more positive now than a decade ago about the effects that immigration has on the U.S. This increase in positivity is seen across six different aspects of life in the U.S., spanning the economy, culture and jobs situation.

Americans More Likely to Say Immigrants Improve Life in the U.S. -- 2007 vs. 2017
For each of the following areas, please say whether immigrants to the United States are making the situation in the country better or worse, or not having much effect. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?
2007 2017 Change
% Better % Better (pct. pts.)
Food, music and the arts 40 57 +17
The economy in general 28 45 +17
Social and moral values 19 31 +12
Taxes 11 23 +12
Job opportunities for you and your family 12 20 +8
The crime situation 4 9 +5
Gallup

These results, from a June 7-11 Gallup poll, are a marked departure from 2007 when Americans were more likely to say they preferred a decrease in immigration to the U.S. than an increase. Americans currently hold more positive views of the effects of immigration despite having recently elected a president who has made derogatory statements about immigrants. U.S. adults' views of immigrants' impact on the country have become at least modestly more positive on each of six aspects of American life. On some measures, they are the most positive views about immigration that Americans have expressed in Gallup's trend since 2001.

A majority of Americans now say immigrants have a positive effect on food, music and the arts (57%), while nearly half say immigration benefits the economy in general (45%) -- with both of these measures up 17 percentage points from 2007.

Americans' views that immigrants have a positive effect on social and moral values (31%) and taxes (23%) are both up by 12 points. Meanwhile, smaller but statistically significant increases are seen among those who say immigrants positively affect job opportunities (20%) and the crime situation (9%).

Nearly Half of Americans Say Immigrants Make Crime Worse

Despite their more positive views about immigration now compared with 2007, Americans' overall net assessment of the impact of immigrants on these six aspects of American life is mixed.

On two measures -- "food, music and the arts" and the economy -- Americans are more likely to say immigrants make the situation in the U.S. better than worse. U.S. adults are divided on immigration's effect on social and moral values. On the three other measures -- taxes, job opportunities and crime -- Americans are more likely to say immigrants make the situation in the U.S. worse than better. On the issue of crime, Americans are five times more likely to say immigrants make the situation worse rather than better (45% to 9%, respectively).

Sizable percentages of Americans on each measure believe immigrants do not have much effect on the country either way, including a slight majority, 51%, who say immigrants have little effect on job opportunities for them and their families.

Americans' Views of Immigration's Effects in 2017
For each of the following areas, please say whether immigrants to the United States are making the situation in the country better or worse, or not having much effect. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?
Better Worse Not much effect
% % %
Food, music and the arts 57 10 29
The economy in general 45 30 22
Social and moral values 31 28 38
Taxes 23 41 33
Job opportunities for you and your family 20 28 51
The crime situation 9 45 43
Gallup, June 7-11, 2017

New Highs in Percentages Saying Immigrants Make Things Better

Across four measures -- the economy, social and moral values, taxes, and job opportunities -- Americans are the most positive they have been since Gallup began asking this question in 2001, besting their previous highs by five points or more.

Graph 3

Democrats Have More Positive Views of Immigration's Effects

On all issues, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are significantly more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents to say immigrants make the situation in the U.S. better. The partisan gaps are largest for food, music and the arts; the economy in general; and social and moral values.

Democrats Significantly More Positive About Effects of Immigration
Republicans/Leaners Democrats/Leaners Difference
% Better % Better (pct. pts.)
Food, music and the arts 39 73 34
The economy in general 29 61 32
Social and moral values 16 45 29
Taxes 13 33 20
Job opportunities for you and your family 11 27 16
The crime situation 3 14 11
Gallup, June 7-11, 2017

Bottom Line

Americans' more positive views of the effects of immigration on various aspects of American life come as the public's desire for decreasing the level of immigration hovers near record lows.

Though Americans' party affiliation relates closely to their views of immigrants' contributions to the U.S., these views could change over the course of Donald Trump's presidency. Republicans may come to view immigration less negatively if the new administration's vetting process becomes stricter. Many Americans, regardless of political party, could seek an influx of foreign talent as the country struggles to compete globally.

Meanwhile, crime remains the issue for which the fewest Americans see a benefit from immigrants. These views could change if Trump's emphasis on "law and order" -- particularly concerning illegal immigration -- diminishes the threat of crimes committed by noncitizens.

Immigrants' contributions to food, music and the arts, however, is somewhat unifying, as this remains the sole area in which a majority of Americans feel immigration has benefited U.S. life, though fewer than half of Republicans agree.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 7-11, 2017, with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Gallup


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