Immigration remains a hot button issue in American politics as the November midterm elections approach, and surveys of likely midterm voters suggests a large majority of Americans support limits on legal immigration.
According to an April survey(PDF) from the Polling Company, a conservative research firm, nearly two-thirds of Americans support reducing legal immigration.
The Washington-based company asked likely voters, “Current federal policy adds about one million new immigrants with lifetime work permits into the U.S. each year. Knowing this, which is closest to the number of new immigrants the government should be adding each year?”
Sixty-four percent said “the federal government should be adding less immigrants with lifetime work permits.” This sentiment was shared among men, women, Republicans, Independents, Democrats and Hispanic/Latino voters.
Those surveyed were asked to choose between six levels of immigration, more than two million, 1.5 million, one million (the current level), 750,000, 500,000 or 250,000 or fewer. Almost half (49 percent) the respondents chose 250,000 or less, 11 percent chose 500,000 and four percent said 750,000. Seventeen percent agree with the current level of one million per year.
The Polling Company findings are similar to a January Harvard/Harris poll(PPT) on Americans’ attitudes toward immigration.
Harvard/Harris found 81 percent of those surveyed favored less immigration than the current rate. It found nine percent want no immigration, 35 percent want less than 250,000 immigrants, 19 percent wanted between 250,000 and 499,999 and 18 percent wanted 500,000 to 999,999.
The Polling Company found about 60 percent support a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamers if their relatives are not given priority to enter the country.
Harvard/Harris found 77 percent of Americans said Dreamers should be given a path to citizenship, but 60 percent also do not want their family members to be given immigration priority.
Dreamers, who were brought to the United States illegally as children, have been allowed to remain, but have not been given legal residence. Under U.S. law a citizen or legal permanent resident can sponsor relatives from their home country to move to the United States.
The ability to bring one’s family is called “chain migration” by opponents and “family-based immigration” by proponents.
Almost 60 percent (59 percent) of both poll’s respondents said immigrants should only be able to bring in their spouse and minor children. Currently, parents, siblings and some non-nuclear family members can immigrate.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been outspoken in wanting to reform the immigration system. He has charged Congress with devising a solution to the Dreamer issue.
“Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump said during his January State of the Union speech. “Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children.”
In response, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s rhetoric on immigration “brings tears to the eyes of the Statue of Liberty.”