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Six things you might not know about public opinion on immigration

A protest in Iowa coinciding with a state visit by A.G. Jeff Sessions, organised by Iowa CCI in partnership with AFSC. Photo: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement / AFSC

Most people agree: Everybody deserves to be treated humanely and with dignity. The Trump administration’s aggressive anti-immigrant policies not only destroy lives and harm our communities—they are unpopular. The public has reacted with outrage at the administration’s efforts to undermine our communities, including its family separation and detention policies and the Muslim ban. And polling shows that public support for immigration is at an all-time high — which means we can build support for more humane policies like creating a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants, and defunding and abolishing ICE.

1. Support for immigration is at an all-time high.

Three-quarters of us think immigration is a good thing for the country today. 

2. Most people want immigration levels to stay the same or go up.

The number of people favoring a decrease in the number of immigrants is at an all-time historical low of 29 percent - and the number of people favoring an increase is at an all-time high of 28 percent. Gallup has been asking people this question since 1965.

3.  A roadmap to citizenship is hugely popular.

The most recent polls from summer 2018 show that a huge majority - 83 percent — favors a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. A 2016 poll showed 84 percent approval for allowing people in the country without legal status, whether they came as children or not, to become citizens.

4. Less than half of people polled have a positive view of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Since April 2018 – when the campaign to abolish ICE was gaining nationwide attention — the share of Americans who view ICE negatively rose by 11 points, and ICE has become the public's least favorite federal agency. Half of Democrats polled in 2018 supported abolishing ICE. 

5. Opinion among white Democrats has shifted sharply and recently in favor of immigrant rights.

In 2011, 60 percent of white Democrats favored a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; in 2016, when the same individuals were interviewed, 74 percent favored a path to citizenship

6. Americans see our diversity as our strength.

Seventy-eight percent of voters believe that immigration from diverse countries makes the U.S. better. 

If you agree, take action with us! Support our call to abolish ICE and sign the petition to stop increasing funding to ICE. Together we can create the world we want — a world where all people are treated humanely. 

About the Author

Carly Goodman is a historian and served as the Communications Analyst and Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow at AFSC.

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