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Snapshot: More in U.S. Say Immigration Is the Top Problem

by RJ Reinhart

Story Highlights

  • 14% say immigration is the top U.S. problem, up from 10% in May
  • 10% of Democrats cite immigration, up from 4% last month
  • 21% of Republicans say immigration, up slightly from 17% in May

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The percentage of Americans identifying immigration as the most important problem facing the U.S. rose slightly to 14% in June, up from 10% in May. As a result, immigration continues to be one of the top-ranking U.S. problems in Americans' eyes, now second to concerns about government leadership, mentioned by 19%. This month's 14% mentioning immigration is one of the highest levels Gallup has recorded in the past 12 years, although it has been trending up since a year ago, when just 4% mentioned it.

Line graph: Americans who cite immigration as the top U.S. problem, Dec 2016-Jun 2018 trend. June 2018: 14% mention immigration.

These latest data come from Gallup's survey, conducted June 1-13.

Background: The survey was conducted amid growing controversy in Washington over U.S. immigration policy, particularly concerning the separation of immigrant children from their parents. Additionally, a group of Republican U.S. representatives have been attempting to force a vote on immigration legislation intended to prevent the deportation of immigrants who had been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Identification of immigration as the U.S. top problem is up among both Democrats and Republicans. Twenty-one percent of Republicans say immigration is the nation's top problem, making it Republicans' No. 1 issue and the highest GOP percentage noting the problem since February, when the figure reached 29%. That month, the Senate blocked three pieces of legislation intended to resolve the issue of immigrants under the DACA program. Among self-identified Democrats, 10% say immigration is now the top problem, up from 4% last month. This is the highest percentage of Democrats citing the issue as the most important U.S. problem since last September.

Line graph: Mentions of immigration as top U.S. problem, by party, Sep 2017-Jun 2018. June 2018: 21% R, 10% D mention immigration.

Americans continue to be most likely to say the government is the top problem facing the country. Nearly one in five Americans (19%) say the government is the most important problem facing the U.S., essentially unchanged from the 20% who said the same last month. This is in line with the 18% to 25% of Americans who have cited government as the top U.S. problem since President Donald Trump took office in January of last year. Dissatisfaction with government has been frequently cited as the country's top problem, including before Trump's election. Dissatisfaction, which includes complaints of poor leadership, government incompetence and dysfunction, has received the highest percentages of mentions for 18 consecutive months.

Americans' Views of the Top Problem Facing the U.S.
Problems mentioned by at least 3% of respondents in June
April 2018 May 2018 June 2018
% % %
Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership 23 20 19
Immigration/Illegal aliens 11 10 14
Race relations 7 7 7
Guns/Gun control 6 3 4
Unifying the country 5 5 4
Economy in general 5 5 4
Healthcare 4 4 4
Ethics/Moral decline 3 5 4
Lack of respect for each other 2 5 4
Unemployment/Jobs 4 3 3
Poverty/Hunger/Homelessness 1 1 3
Gallup

Americans mention relatively few problems when asked about the top U.S. issue this month. Overall, Gallup received a response rate of 112%, meaning that 12% of respondents mentioned more than one problem. Typically, this rate is substantially higher; the average since 2001 has been 135% and is 121% this year. This likely indicates respondents are having difficulty thinking of significant problems facing the country, potentially because of high levels of satisfaction with the direction of the U.S. and the current state of the economy. This month, 15% of Americans rate any economic issue as the country's top problem, down from 20% in May and below the 18% average for the year so far.

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Takeaway: In a month when no major school shootings or racial incidents have dominated the news, but lawmakers and others around the country have expressed outrage at new immigration policies that separate children from their parents caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Americans became slightly more concerned about immigration as a national problem in June, moving it closer to government in mentions of the top challenge facing the U.S. Immigration remains the top issue in the minds of Republicans and is now the third-most-frequently mentioned problem among Democrats.

The importance of immigration is not surprising, given that the ongoing political debate over immigration has intensified as the Trump administration has shifted to a "zero tolerance" policy, which has resulted in high-profile separations of dependent children of immigrants from their parents who are crossing the border illegally. In addition, Congress has taken steps to vote on a package of immigration bills, something it has not done since 2013.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-13, 2018, with a random sample of 1,520 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 ±3 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.

Gallup


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