A recent Gallup Poll found that a larger margin of Americans are supportive of increased immigration to the United States than are unsupportive. Gallup has observed the trend in public opinion towards immigration since 1965, but its 2020 poll is the first time that more Americans prefer increased immigration than decreased immigration, and marks the highest support for increased immigration in the poll’s history.
Conducted between May 28 and June 4, the Gallup Poll found that at the present moment, 34 percent of Americans feel that immigration to the United States should be increased. A year ago, just 27 percent felt similarly, reflecting a seven-point increase in favorability. The poll also found that 28 percent feel that immigration should be decreased, and 36 percent are content with the current level of immigration to the United States.
According to Gallup, the poll “predated” several recent decisions directly pertaining to immigration. Most recently, on June 22 President Trump issued an order halting H-1B visas for individuals seeking employment and for students in work-study programs. Several days prior to Trump’s order, the Supreme Court ruled to block the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle DACA.
Historically speaking, trends in public opinion towards immigration have been shaped by a variety of factors, including individuals’ partisan affiliation and generational identity, among others. Gallup observed such trends reflecting political party in their 2020 poll; for example, while 50 percent of those identifying as Democrats preferred an increase immigration, just 13 percent of those identifying as Republicans responded similarly.
Pew Research Center has also conducted research and polling to gauge public opinion among generational cohorts. In 2018, Pew found that the largest number of individuals belonging to younger generations were of the opinion that immigration strengthens the country. According to Pew, whereas 79 percent of Millennials agreed that immigration strengthens America, just 66 percent of Generation X and 56 percent of Baby Boomers agreed.
In 2016, President Trump ran a campaign that was antagonistic towards immigrants and immigration. According to Gallup, just two years ago, a majority of Americans found that immigration was “the most important problem facing the country.” As shifting opinions regarding immigration meet a moment where national conversations increasingly focus on issues including public health and racial tensions in the United States, it remains to be seen whether changing public opinion towards immigration in the United States will have a pronounced effect on the results of the approaching 2020 election.
Media Resources: Gallup 7/1/2020; Pew Research Center 3/1/2018; New York Times 6/22/2020; The Washington Post 6/18/2020