New polling from the Pew Research Center underscores that the American public is strongly in favor of welcoming and practical immigration policies, in sharp contrast to the tone and tenor of the Republican presidential campaign. Among the key immigration-related findings in the Pew Research polling:
Three-of-four Americans, including a majority of Republicans, back legal status for undocumented immigrants: In response to a question asking if undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements should be allowed to stay legally in the United States, Americans in the Pew Research polling preferred policies that would allow immigrants to stay in the U.S. by a 74%-25% margin. In contrast to the GOP candidates on the 2016 campaign trail, Republican respondents supported legalization by a 57%-41% margin (though the Pew Republican numbers on this question echo the results of exit polling from 2016 Republican primary states – in 14/16 states, Republican primary voters have supported offering undocumented immigrants “a chance to apply for legal status” instead of deportation).If a respondent indicated that they opposed legalization, the Pew Research poll asked a follow-up question whether respondents supported a national law enforcement effort to deport all undocumented immigrants. Only 19% of the public indicated support for this approach, meaning that fewer than one-in-five Americans back the proposed immigration plan of Donald Trump to find and expel all undocumented immigrants within the nation within 24 months.
By a 57%-35% margin, Americans believe immigrants are a strength, not a burden: When asked whether immigrants today do more to strengthen the country through their hard work and talents or burden the country because they take jobs, housing and health care, respondents viewed immigrants as a strength by a 57%-35% margin.
By a 59%-38% margin, Americans oppose Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico: When asked if they favor or oppose building a wall along the entire border with Mexico, as Donald Trump proposes, the American public opposes the idea by a 59%-38% margin.
Trump voters’ sentiments are outliers on immigration: On each of these questions, Trump supporters are strong outliers compared to rest of the electorate. On the question gauging whether immigrants are a burden or a strength, Trump voters said “burden” by a 69%-20% margin (compared to the overall public saying “strength” by a 57%-35% margin). On the question assessing whether undocumented immigrants should be able to stay legally, Trump voters said “no” by a 52%-47% margin (compared to the overall public saying “yes” by a 74%-25% margin). On the follow-up question asking whether they supported a national law enforcement deportation effort, 42% of Trump supporters expressed support (only 19% of overall public supports). And on the border wall question, Trump supporters are supportive of the idea by a whopping 84%-14% margin (compared to the overall public opposing the wall by a 59%-38% margin).
The new Pew numbers echo many of the findings of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), which earlier this week released the massive 2015 American Values Atlas on Americans’ views on immigration. The PRRI study, with a massive sample size of 42,000 interviews, found that Americans support legalization over deportation by a 77%-19% margin (including 62% of respondents who supported a pathway to citizenship); majority support for a pathway to citizenship in 49/50 states; and that by a 50%-34% margin, a belief that newcomers from other countries strengthen American society rather than represent a threat to American customs and values.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “In poll after poll, Americans are strongly in favor of policies that grant undocumented immigrants the chance to remain in the U.S. rather than face deportation. Support for legalization also includes a majority of Republicans, despite what you may think based on what you hear on the GOP campaign trail. Trump and his supporters are clearly outliers on immigration, as the Pew polling documents. The question remains why the rest of the Republican Party is content to allow Trump and the other hardliners in its midst to dictate the GOP’s direction on immigration, given that the Party’s brand image to fast growing groups of voters and its general election hopes call for a radically different approach.”
Read the new polling from the Pew Research Center