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Overall U.S. Desire to Decrease Immigration Unchanged in 2017

Overall U.S. Desire to Decrease Immigration Unchanged in 2017

Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • 35% in U.S. say immigration should be decreased
  • About as many (38%) say immigration should stay at present level
  • 12-point dip in Republicans who want immigration decreased

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As a whole, Americans' attitudes about immigration haven't changed significantly since Donald Trump's presidential campaign platform promised action against illegal immigrants. U.S. adults remain about as likely to say they would like to see immigration kept at its present level (38%) as they are to say it should be decreased (35%). About one in four say immigration should be increased (24%).

Americans' Preferences for U.S. Immigration Levels, 1965-2017

These data, collected in a June 7-11 Gallup poll, are similar to last year's figures from when Trump was campaigning for president. Since his election in November, Trump has reaffirmed his pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He also had recent success with immigration policy when the Supreme Court decided to allow some aspects of his program for banning travelers into the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries. But Trump's well-known stances on these issues, which propelled him as a presidential candidate, have not had any meaningful effect on Americans' preferences for U.S. immigration policy.

Fewer Republicans This Year Favor Less Immigration to U.S.

Republicans' and Republican-leaning independents' appetite for decreased immigration has fallen since Trump's election. Whereas six in 10 wanted less immigration last year, this figure is now slightly less than half (48%).

Republicans' substantial drop in desire for an immigration decrease is balanced, however, by small increases among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, as well as independents who don't lean toward either party. Both groups edged up three percentage points in their preference for a decrease in immigration.

Democrats' and Democratic-leaning independents remain most likely to say immigration should be kept at its present level (42%), while a third say it should be increased (33%) and 23% say it should be decreased.

Preferences for U.S. Immigration Levels, by Party With Leaners
In your view, should immigration be kept at its present level, increased or decreased?
  Present level Increased Decreased
  % % %
Republicans and Republican leaners  
2017, June 7-11 35 14 48
2016, June 7-July 1 27 11 60
Democrats and Democratic leaners  
2017, June 7-11 42 33 23
2016, June 7-July 1 46 31 20

The shift in Republicans' attitudes could reflect a sense of political victory among Trump supporters who believe the president is fulfilling the immigration-related promises he made on the campaign trail. Republicans could, thus, feel more satisfied with the current status of immigration than they did during the height of the presidential election. Also, some Trump supporters might believe immigrants are being more thoroughly vetted by the Trump administration.

Bottom Line

Though preventing illegal immigration was one of the president's key campaign promises, the general desire to decrease immigration is near its historic low in Gallup's trend over more than half a century.

Among Trump's own party, the decline in the percentage of Republicans who prefer to decrease the level of immigration into the U.S. could be related to a greater trust in federal vetting of immigrants rather than a decline in their concern about potentially dangerous immigrants entering the country.

However, more Americans may want to decrease immigration if they begin to feel the administration has wavered in its commitment to stricter immigration policies. Trump's pledge for a border wall, for example, will be politically challenging to fund.

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.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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