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New Polling Shows Americans Strongly Support Biden’s Immigration Policies

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Trump’s nativism backfired, driving a majority of voters to become even more pro-immigrant


The Biden administration’s Day One announcements on immigration reflect a decided shift in public opinion. Americans are much more pro-immigrant than ever before. These findings suggest that on immigrants and immigration policy, Republicans are speaking to a shrinking percentage of Americans while the Biden-Harris administration has the wind at their backs. 

Chicago Council on Global Affairs: 68% of Americans, including majority of Republicans, support citizenship – 10 percentage points higher than in 2016. 

A Real Clear Politics column from Brendan Helm and Craig Kafura of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs lifts up the immigration findings from the most recent, 2020 edition of the well-respected Chicago Council Survey of more than 2,100 Americans. The survey finds that a supermajority of the public (68%) supports citizenship and that Americans grew more pro-immigrant during the Trump presidency. They write:

Biden’s efforts on immigration reform come at a time when the American public is more favorably inclined toward immigrants — and immigration reform — than ever before. The most recent data from the 2020 Chicago Council Survey show that two-thirds of Americans believe unauthorized immigrants should be allowed to stay in their jobs and apply for citizenship, either without conditions (45%) or on condition of paying a penalty and waiting a number of years (23%).

Indeed, support for allowing these immigrants to pursue citizenship rose during Trump’s term in office, growing from 58% in 2016 to 68% today … majorities of Republicans (52%), Democrats (84%), and Independents (68%) support a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

….Trump’s strong embrace of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies drove more Americans away from his positions than he attracted. In doing so, he built instead a larger well of support for reforms, which Biden may be able to tap.

PRRI immigration polling report released last week finds 80% of Americans back permanent legal status for undocumented immigrants, including a 64% majority that support citizenship. 

The PRRI immigration polling of more than 2,500 Americans asked a host of immigration questions: 

  • 80 percent of Americans support legal status for undocumented immigrants, including 64 percent who support citizenship. When asked, “Which statement comes closest to your view about how the immigration system should deal with immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally?” A combined 80 percent support some sort of permanent solution – either citizenship or permanent status – for undocumented immigrants, with a strong majority of 64% supporting citizenship, 16% supporting permanent legal status short of citizenship, and 19% supporting deportation.  


Additional PRRI immigration questions and findings include:

  • 76% oppose a policy that would separate children from their families at the border 
  • 66% favor allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal resident status 
  • 62% oppose a law preventing refugees from entering the U.S.
  • 57% oppose building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border
  • 53% oppose travel bans that temporarily prevent people from some Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.


Morning Consult polling finds strong backing for Biden’s executive actions to end the Muslim ban and halt construction on Trump’s border wall with Mexico:

  • 51-37% support for ending construction on Trump’s border wall. When asked if they support/oppose “halting construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall,” a majority of 51-37% supported ending the wall, including a plurality of 39% “strongly supporting” ending the wall construction.
  • 48-37% support for ending Muslim ban with intensity on the yes side. The poll finds by a combined 48-37% margin (remainder did not express opinion), registered voters support “ending restrictions on immigration and travel from some predominantly Muslim countries.” A plurality of 31% “strongly supports” ending the ban.


According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, 

The Biden-Harris White House recognizes what too many have not: on immigration, the tectonic plates have shifted, creating more space for pro-immigrant policies than ever. Trump’s nativism backfired. His cruelty and the chaos it caused forced a choice, and a solid majority of Americans came down on the side of immigrants. This should make Republicans who cater to the grievances of a shrinking minority think twice, and give Democrats the confidence that they are reflecting the majority will by moving forward on pro-immigrant policies.

See our recent deep dive on recent American immigration polling and public opinion here.