When asked about immigrants’ impact on the country, a majority of Americans (62%) believe immigrants from other countries “strengthen the U.S.” However, nearly half (46%) agree with President Trump’s proposal to institute a merit-based system to determine who is admitted to the country, according to an icitizen poll conducted from August 7-15, 2017.
In an online survey of 1,881 U.S. adults, only 12% of Republicans say they trust their Republican leaders in Congress most when it comes to handling immigration, while 75% of them place the most trust in President Trump.
Attitudes on Immigration
Fully 62% of Americans believe immigrants “strengthen the U.S” (31% weaken, 7% unsure).
- Those most supportive of immigrants in the U.S. are millennials (77%), non-white Americans (73%) and Democrats (86%).
- About a quarter (24%) of Republicans believe immigrants “strengthen the U.S.”
- Those who feel immigrants “weaken the U.S.” include seniors (40%), men over age 50 (37%) and fully 68% of Republicans.
- Over one in ten Democrats (11%) believe immigrants “weaken the U.S.”
Drilling in deeper, we asked about the appropriate number of new legal immigrants that enter the country each year. Results became much more divided. Current federal policy automatically adds about one million new legal immigrants each year.
- A plurality of Americans (42%) believe the number is “about right.” Close behind, 35% of Americans believe the number is “too high” and 12% believe it is “too low.”
- Those who believe the current number of legal immigrants each year is too high include seniors (45%), white Americans (42%) and 76% of Republicans.
- Over half (53%) of racial minorities believe this federal policy is “about right.”
Split on Trump’s Immigration Plan
Recently, President Trump supported a proposal to reduce legal immigration to the United States in half within a decade by restricting the ability of American citizens and legal residents to bring family members into the country.
- The majority of respondents (60%) oppose the immigration proposal (39% support, 1% “unsure”).
“The immigration proposal’s strongest opponents include millennials (72%), those highly educated (68%), racial minorities (72%) and 93% of Democrats,” said Cynthia Villacis, icitizen’s Director of Polling. “Its supporters include seniors (45%), men over 50 (51%) and 88% of Republicans. Not surprisingly, we can see firm split along party lines regarding this issue. ”
The proposed bill would also institute a merit-based system to determine who is admitted to the country and granted legal residency green cards, favoring applicants based on skills, education and language ability rather than relations with people already here.
- Opinions are largely split on this merit-based system, with 52% opposing and 46% supporting (2% unsure).
- Those in support of this proposed system are men (53%), white Americans (50%) and Republicans (89%).
- The strongest opponents are young women (63%), racial minorities (62%), Independents (56%) and Democrats (82%).
Finally, when asked which federal institution they trust to handle the issue of immigration most, the majority (51%) say “Democrats in Congress.”
- 31% say President Trump
- 6% say Republicans in Congress
- 13% are “unsure” or have “no opinion”
“Overall, Americans are largely pro-immigrant,” said Villacis, “but that conceptual support begins to fade when asked about specific policy in the U.S., such as the number of immigrants admitted in a year. There is room to define Trump’s immigration proposal, as opinion is largely split on support for a merit-based system to determine admittance to the country.”
The survey was conducted online from August 7-15, 2017 among 1,881 U.S. adults who are registered icitizen users nationwide. In order to achieve an accurate demographic representation of the public, the data were weighted to U.S. Census benchmarks for gender, age, race, education, and national benchmarks for party identification. The margin of error for the full sample is 2.26 percentage points, and is higher for subgroups.
For more information, please contact Cynthia Villacis, icitizen’s Director of Polling.