President Trump, Stephen Miller, and hardline anti-immigrant allies have forced a referendum on immigration and immigrants in America. And it seems they are losing.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll is the latest study that captures how Americans are increasingly rejecting the Trump/Miller vision and embracing pragmatic pro-immigrant policies. The massive Reuters/Ipsos poll of more than 4,000 Americans asked several questions about race and immigration policy. The same poll asked similar questions back in 2016, allowing for an interesting comparison to when then-candidate Donald Trump emerged on the campaign scene embracing full-throated xenophobia. Among the poll findings:
- 61-24% support for a “creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.” Americans overwhelmingly support this option, including by pluralities or majorities of every partisan group: 80-11% among Democrats, 55-24% among Independents, and 45-39% among Republicans.
- White Americans are now 19 percentage points more supportive of path to citizenship for undocumented. Compared to their 2016 poll, Reuters writes in their poll summary that, “White Americans are also 19 percentage points more supportive of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.” Assessing the trendline compared to four years ago, the poll summary from Reuters notes, “Trump’s brand of white identity politics may be less effective in the 2020 election campaign.”
Assessing the polling and implications in The Atlantic, David Graham writes, “The Longer Trump Stays in Office, the More Americans Oppose His Views,” noting, “far from suggesting a large appetite for greater immigration restrictions that’s being unmet, the polling data suggest a large appetite for more immigration that’s going unfulfilled thanks to Trump’s aggressive rhetoric. Moreover, there’s been evidence of a backlash against the president’s invective since the first months of his term. Trump has managed to force a national conversation around immigration, but rather than bring people to his side, he has convinced them he’s wrong.”
The Reuters/Ipsos polling is joined by a host of other recent polls finding strong pro-immigrant support and/or opposition to Trump’s restrictionist policies and crackdown, with some polls finding evidence that Americans may be growing more pro-immigrant during the Trump presidency, including:
- Pew Research: broad rejection of Trump immigration/asylum policies (August 2019): 65% say the federal government is doing a bad job dealing with the increased number of people seeking asylum; 86% say it’s important to increase the number of judges handling asylum cases; 72% are in in favor a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants; 77% reject the idea that undocumented immigrants are taking Americans’ jobs; 73% say undocumented immigrants are as honest and hardworking as American citizens; and 69% say immigrants are no more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes.
- Gallup poll: Americans growing more supportive of Central American refugee admissions (August 2019): Americans are more likely now (57%) than in December of last year (51%) to support allowing refugees from Central America into the U.S; and support for allowing Central American refugees entry is now higher than Gallup has found for most refugee cases it has polled on historically, “including Syrian refugees in 2015 as well as stretching back to refugees from the German Holocaust in the 1930s and 40s.”
- CNN poll finds that Americans’ overwhelming top priority for immigration policy is legalization and citizenship (July 2019): “majorities across party lines say that the government’s top priority in dealing with immigrants living in the US illegally ought to be developing a plan to allow some people doing so to become legal residents (80% overall say so, including 96% of Democrats, 81% of independents and 63% of Republicans). Just 15% overall — and only 32% of Republicans — say the nation should prioritize deporting all people living in the US illegally over developing such a plan.”
- Fox News poll: Americans support Dreamers’ citizenship by 3:1 margin and by 2:1 margin think Trump has gone too far (June 2019): Americans support Dreamers’ citizenship by a 73-24% margin, with even a majority of Republicans backing the idea. And by a 50-24% margin, Americans think Trump’s enforcement of immigration laws has “gone too far” instead of “not far enough.”
- Global Strategy Group poll on behalf of FWD.us: By 77-18% margin, Americans support Dreamers’ citizenship (May 2019)
- Gallup poll: 81-18% support for a pathway to citizenship (February 2019): Question worded in the poll as, “allowing immigrants living in the U.S. illegally the chance to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain requirements over a period of time.”
- NBC/WSJ poll finds most positive response in history on whether immigration is helpful or harmful (September 2018): When asking, “Would you say that immigration helps the United States more than it hurts it, OR immigration hurts the United States more than it helps it?” By a 61-28% margin, voters overwhelmingly said immigration helps America. Asked 19 times since 2005, this is the most positive response in the poll’s history on the question until that point. Since 2005, voters have swung 49 percentage points in a pro-immigration direction. The current +33 margin in the pro-immigrant direction compares to a 37-53% (-16) finding when the NBC/WSJ poll first asked this question in 2005.
- Gallup poll finds record high support for positive sentiments on immigration (June 2018). Gallup found that 75% of Americans believe immigration is a good thing for the country, a record high.
As Greg Sargent, writing in the Washington Post, noted in June 2019: “There is a puzzling tendency among pundits to ascribe Trump magical powers on this issue, simply by virtue of his 2016 victory, which has left them in a defensive crouch. But the difference now is that voters have actually seen Trump’s immigration horrors in practice — and are recoiling.”