At the same time that immigration has risen to its highest level as a matter of concern for the United States, the number of Americans who view immigration as a good thing has also hit new heights.
According to new Gallup polling, 76 percent of Americans say (legal) immigration is a plus and, in a long list of issues facing the country, immigration ranks No. 2 for the first time, at 23 percent.
These numbers may seem contradictory, but at a time when the federal government has put the brakes on those seeking to legally come to the U.S. as refugees, or through the asylum process, or on travel visas, most Americans want to see a steady or increasing number of immigrants arriving.
Only 19 percent view immigration as a bad thing, the Gallup survey shows. And two-thirds of those who identify immigration as the most important problem believe it is a good thing worth expanding, not something that calls for a crackdown.
The contrasts have taken shape because the country is sharply divided on immigration based on party affiliation. A slight majority of Republicans, 54 percent, want U.S. immigration levels decreased, while 31 percent want them kept the same and only 13 percent favor an increase. Democrats are about equally likely to prefer increased immigration (43 percent) or to see levels maintained (42 percent). Just 13 percent want immigration cut. Independents are in the middle as their views match those of all U.S. adults combined.
Poll respondents say immigrants add to the nation’s art and culture while boosting the economy by taking hard-to-fill jobs for employers. Those who want fewer foreigners coming to America associate immigrants with crime and receiving free government benefits.
While immigration is the public’s No. 2 concern, at the top of the list is government, at 26 percent. Essentially, that refers to the Trump administration and/or Congress — and, of course, the way they are handling the border and immigration enforcement.