- Three-quarters of Americans think immigration is a good thing
- 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agree
- 39% say immigration should be kept at present level, 28% say increased
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A record-high 75% of Americans, including majorities of all party groups, think immigration is a good thing for the U.S. -- up slightly from 71% last year. Just 19% of the public considers immigration a bad thing.
The latest findings are based on a Gallup poll conducted June 1-13, a key time for immigration reform in the U.S. as the House of Representatives debates the issue. The House will vote this week on two pieces of legislation that address several key immigration policy reforms. Among them are the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally at a young age with their parents and the border wall that has been the cornerstone of President Donald Trump's immigration policy.
At the same time, Trump has been under strong bipartisan pressure to amend the "zero-tolerance" policy that resulted in the separation from their parents of more than 2,000 children of migrants illegally crossing the U.S. border from Mexico in recent months. Trump bowed to the pressure on Wednesday, signing an executive order to keep children and their parents in the same location.
Meanwhile, proposed legislation by conservative members of Congress would include actions to cut back on the number of immigrants allowed to enter the U.S. legally. Republican legislators are facing a public that is largely supportive of immigration into the U.S., in general. In all but one year since Gallup started asking this question in 2001, majorities of Americans across party lines have viewed immigration as positive for the U.S. The exception came in 2002, when slightly less than half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents thought immigration was a good thing, although 58% of Democrats and Democratic leaners held this view. So a majority nationally, 52%, were still positive. This was recorded about nine months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks were committed by hijackers holding legal visas. Currently, 85% of Democrats and Democratic leaners and 65% of Republicans and Republican leaners view immigration positively.
Given attempts by the Trump administration to cut back on legal immigration, Gallup tested an alternative wording to this question for the first time this year -- asking half of the respondents about "legal immigration," whereas the trend question does not specify a particular type of immigration. Americans are more likely to support legal immigration, with 84% describing it as a good thing, nine percentage points higher than the reading for "immigration."
|Good thing||Bad thing|
|Each version of the question was asked of roughly half of the total sample.|
|Gallup, June 1-13, 2018|
Eighty percent of Republicans and leaners and 92% of Democrats and leaners say legal immigration is a good thing for the U.S.
Fewer Americans Call for a Decrease in Immigration Levels
Corroborating the data that show Americans believe immigration is good for the country, a separate Gallup trend question shows a record-low number of Americans -- 29% -- saying that immigration into the U.S. should be decreased. A plurality of 39% think immigration into the U.S. should be kept at its present level, while 28% say it should be increased.
These results mark a six-point drop from one year ago in the percentage of those preferring a reduction in immigration. In the past 20 years, the highest reading for those calling for a decrease in immigration levels was in October 2001, about a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
The change in "decreased" sentiment was roughly uniform across party affiliation. Currently, 44% of Democrats and Democratic leaners would prefer immigration to be kept at the present level, 36% would like it increased and 15% say it should be decreased. Among Republicans and Republican leaners, 35% think immigration should be kept at its current level, 20% would like it increased and 42% say decreased.
Gallup also tested an alternative wording on this question for the first time by asking half of respondents about "immigration" and half about "legal immigration." Those asked the "legal immigration" question were more likely than those asked the "immigration" question to support increasing the level, 34% versus 28%, respectively.
U.S. immigration policy was a key part of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and it has been an area of significant action because his administration has targeted both legal and illegal immigration with its policies. Since taking office, Trump has issued a travel ban for residents of a number of primarily Muslim countries, continued to press for a wall along the Southern U.S. border and sought to end the DACA program, in addition to a number of other less visible actions.
Gallup polling has shown that the public is at odds with Trump over the border wall and strongly favors allowing DACA children to remain in the U.S. and have a path to citizenship. More generally, Americans' strong belief that immigration is a good thing for the country and that immigration levels shouldn't be decreased present the president and Congress with some tough decisions as the midterm elections loom.
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. For results based on the two split samples of 755 and 765 national adults, the margins of sampling error are ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
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.
Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.