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New PRRI Immigration Polling: Americans Strongly Reject Trump’s Nativism

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2020 edition of PRRI’s “American Values Survey” offers fresh data on why Trump’s reliance on xenophobia keeps failing and backfiring

The latest edition of PRRI’s annual, large-sample “American Values Survey” poll is out today. It is filled with interesting findings on a range of issues and topics, including immigration. 

Among the key findings relevant to immigration:

  • 80-19% support for legal status for undocumented immigrants, include 64% for citizenship. PRRI finds, “About two-thirds of Americans (64%) say that immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be allowed a way to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements. Less than one in five (16%) say they would prefer undocumented immigrants to be eligible for permanent residency status but not citizenship, and about one in five (19%) say all immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be deported. Support for allowing undocumented immigrants to become citizens has remained stable since 2019 and has been remarkably consistent over the last five years.” 
  • 76-23% opposition to family separation policy. The opposition includes majorities of all party respondents: 91% of Democrats, 79% of Independents, and 53% of Republicans. 
  • 66-33% support for Dreamers’ permanent residency. 80% of Democrats, 72% of independents, and 45% of Republicans support, “allowing immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, better known as Dreamers, to gain legal resident status.” 
  • 62-36% opposition to preventing refugee admissions. 79% of Democrats, 66% of independents, and 36% of Republicans oppose efforts to prevent refugees from entering the United States. 
  • 57-42% opposition to the border wall with Mexico. Support for the wall is largely along party lines, with 85% of Democrats and 62% of Independents opposing the wall, while 84% of Republicans support it. 
  • Immigration has declined as a hot-button issue for Americans, including a sharp drop among Republicans. In contrast to previous surveys, only 33% of Americans think that immigration is a “critical” issue in the 2020 survey. This is down from 49% who labeled it as such in PRRI’s 2019 edition of the same poll. Among Republican respondents, 38% called immigration critical, which is a 22-percentage point drop compared to the 60% who called it critical in October 2016.

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

The American people have decided. Trump’s reliance on racism and xenophobia may play well in the cul-de-sac of his core supporters, but strong majorities of the American people are pro-immigrant. This is why Trump’s immigrant-bashing is costing more support than it attracts. 

Trump has forced Americans to make a choice on immigrants and refugees. We have. Most Americans strongly support citizenship for the undocumented, strongly oppose the Trump immigration record on family separation, Dreamers, refugees, and the border wall, and strongly support a fair and humane approach to policy.

After all, xenophobia is the original sin of Trumpism and his administration’s signature issue. Over the summer, White House aide Stephen Miller told Reuters that Trump’s tough immigration stance would contrast with that of his Democratic challenger Joe Biden and prove to be for Democrats a “massive political vulnerability” in the coming election.

Sorry, Mr. Miller. The radicalism of this administration has mobilized intense opposition to the hate and divisiveness you and your Dear Leader direct at the non-white other. Your days are numbered. The future belongs to a multiracial majority that wants America to live up to its ideals, including realizing our promise as a nation that welcomes newcomers.