A plurality of Americans believe the level of immigration into the US should be decreased, according to a new Gallup poll — the first time the survey has shown that in eight years.
The poll found that 38% of Americans want less immigration, while 27% said they want more. Another 31% said they want immigration to remain at its current level.
The last time more Americans wanted immigration reduced was in 2014, when 41% held that opinion, 33% said they wanted present levels maintained, and just 22% said they wanted immigration levels increased.
This year’s numbers are almost a mirror image of 2020, when 28% of Americans said they wanted to see immigration levels decreased — matching the low-water mark for that point of view. In the same poll, 36% said they wanted immigration to stay at current levels and 34% said they wanted increased immigration.
The change in attitudes comes as nationwide encounters of migrants have more than quadrupled in the US over the last two years. On the southern border alone, Customs and Border Protection has already reported the highest number of migrant encounters in a fiscal year since 1960 after recording 207,416 stops in June.
President Biden and his administration have been heavily criticized for the historic spike as some Republican leaders – namely Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey – have begun to transport migrants to east coast cities like New York and Washington DC in order to ease the strain on border towns.
The Gallup survey did not refer to “legal” or “illegal” immigration, leaving interpretation up to respondents.
The venerable polling company has been asking Americans their views on immigration since 1965. Support for more restrictions peaked between 1993 and 1995, when 65% of Americans said they wanted the number of new arrivals reduced amid efforts by then-President Bill Clinton to strengthen border control.
Support for decreased immigration fell to 38% in 2000 before spiking to 58% in October 2001, a month after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Gallup also found that 69% of Republicans want less immigration to the US, up 12 percentage points from last year. Meanwhile, just 33% and 17% of Independents and Democrats want less immigration – a four-point increase from 2021 among both groups.
Despite the growing desire for fewer immigrants, the vast majority of Americans still believe immigration is a positive for the US.
Gallup found that 70% of respondents call immigration a “good thing,” while just 24% of Americans say it is a “bad thing.”
Broken down by party, Democrats (86%) and Independents (75%) overwhelmingly view immigration as a positive while Republicans are split, with 46% saying immigration is good and 45% saying it is bad.
Gallup’s survey was conducted between July 5 – 26 among 1,013 random adults. The poll carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.
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