USA: Public Opinion Shifts in a Pro-Immigration Direction

Of note. Dysfunctional US political system does not translate shift into political action:

Since 1965, Gallup has been polling Americans about whether they want immigration levels to decrease, increase, or remain the same. Last year, the percentage of Americans who want to increase immigration rose above the percentage who want to decrease it for the first time. In 2021, that shift held with more respondents again supporting increasing immigration than decreasing it (Figure 1). The support for increasing legal immigration may have narrowed in 2021 to 33 percent from 35 percent in 2020, but the changes are so small that they are likely statistically insignificant.

Consistent with the general rise in support for increasing immigration, a large majority of Americans still believe that immigration is a good thing for the United States (Figure 2). Just like in Figure 1, the percentage saying it’s a good thing has declined by 2 percentage points but that is a small shift a statistically insignificant shift. Although this is consistent with pro‐​immigration policy views, it also includes those who like the current level of immigration.

However, an even more important shift has continued in U.S. opinion about immigration. Since 2001, Gallup has asked this question: “(Asked of those dissatisfied with level of immigration into U.S.) Would you like to see the level of immigration in this country increased, decreased or remain about the same?” Respondents who are dissatisfied with the level of immigration are increasingly likely to be dissatisfied because they think that there is too little immigration. I wrote about this last year but the trend has grown in 2021 (Figure 3). In 2020, 26 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the level of immigration and they wanted to decrease immigration. By 2021, that percentage had fallen to 19 percent. The percent of those who were dissatisfied and wanted an increase stayed about the same and the percent of those satisfied climbed slightly.

That’s a tectonic shift. From 2001–2016, an average of 63 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the level of immigration. Only about 5 percent of respondents were dissatisfied and wanted to increase immigration levels and a whopping 44 percent of the dissatisfied wanted to decrease them (Figure 3). This began to change shortly after President Trump took office. From 2017–2020, an average of about 11 percent of respondents wanted to increase immigration levels while 28 percent were dissatisfied and wanted to decrease them. By the end of the Trump administration, there was still quite a gap among those dissatisfied with immigration, but it had narrowed.

We’re clearly seeing a shift in public opinion where those who dislike the current system are beginning to dislike it because it’s too restrictive. To the extent that we can believe surveys that measure opinions unexpressed through concrete actions like voting, this is a big shift. So far, virtually all of the political energy and enthusiasm has been for immigration restriction. Anti‐​immigration voters cared a lot more about this issue than pro‐​immigration voters. Now, the decline in the percent of respondents who are dissatisfied and who want less immigration is beginning to look like the collapse in anti‐​immigration sentiment that began in the mid‐​1990s (Figure 1).

One doubt I had about this change in behavior last year was that this increased pro‐​immigration opinion was just a reaction to President Trump and that it would fade out after he left office. In other words, I was worried that this was just an ephemeral liberal reaction of President Trump rather than a real and sustained change in opinion. But since the 2021 survey results show that only 19 percent of respondents are dissatisfied and want less immigration, a number 7 percentage points below the previous response in 2020, that is an indication that the pro‐​immigration sentiment of the American public is continuing to increase in the Biden administration. That improvement is especially surprising considering the rise in apprehensions along the border.

This appears to be a positive and sustainable change in American public opinion.

Source: Public Opinion Shifts in a Pro-Immigration Direction | Cato at …https://www.cato.org › blog › public-opinion-shifts-pro…

Americans Remain Divided on Preferred Immigration Levels

Latest Gallup poll. Overall trends toward more support for immigration along with notable partisan divided along with demographic details:

Americans divide almost evenly on whether immigration to the U.S. should be increased (33%), decreased (31%) or kept at its present level (35%). These preferences are similar to last year’s readings but reflect greater support for increased immigration since the early 2000s, reaching a high of 34% in 2020. At the same time, there has been a decline in recent years in the percentage of Americans who want immigration decreased, with last year’s 28% the lowest in the trend.

Line graph. Americans’ preferences for immigration levels. Thirty-five percent of U.S. adults want immigration kept at its present level, while 33% want it increased and 31% decreased.

For much of Gallup’s trend dating back to 1965, the plurality (if not the majority) of Americans wanted immigration decreased. Three surveys conducted between 1993 and 1995 found more than six in 10 wanting immigration reduced. After 9/11, 58% held this view, and as recently as 2009, 50% did.

Meanwhile, relatively few Americans called for increased immigration, with the percentage holding that view not surpassing 20% until 2012. Since then, it has not gone below that level and has been the preferred option for one in three Americans each of the past two years.

The current results are based on a June 1-July 5 Gallup survey that included oversamples of Black and Hispanic adults to allow for more precise estimates of those subgroups. The overall sample was weighted so all racial and ethnic groups are represented in their proper proportions of the U.S. population.

These findings come at a time when the U.S. is struggling to control crossings at its southern border, with many of those migrants coming from Central American countries. June saw the largest number of attempted border crossings in more than two decades. At the same time, many U.S. businesses are currently having difficulty filling open job positions. In the longer term, the U.S. has an increasingly aging population that may not be able to fill the number of jobs needed in the future.

Gallup’s latest update finds 9% of Americans naming immigration as the most important problem facing the country. Only the government and race relations are mentioned more frequently.

Hispanic Americans More Likely to Favor Increased Immigration

Forty-two percent of Hispanic adults want immigration levels increased, compared with 32% of non-Hispanic Black and 30% of non-Hispanic White adults.

Overall, White Americans divide equally in their preference for immigration, while Black Americans slightly prefer keeping immigration levels the same.

Preferences for U.S. Immigration Levels, by Racial/Ethnic Group
In your view, should immigration be kept at its present level, increased or decreased?
Increased Present level Decreased
% % %
U.S. adults 33 35 31
Hispanic adults 42 33 25
Non-Hispanic White adults 30 33 35
Non-Hispanic Black adults 32 41 26
GALLUP, JUNE 1-JULY 5, 2021

Since Gallup began tracking racial/ethnic groups’ immigration attitudes in 2001, each has shown a greater preference for increased immigration, especially White Americans. That year, 10% of White Americans, 24% of Black Americans and 33% of Hispanic Americans favored increased immigration levels.

The racial/ethnic group differences, however, are not as great as those for party identification and education. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans, compared with 12% of Democrats, want to see immigration reduced. In contrast, half of Democrats and 10% of Republicans want it increased.

Additionally, half of Americans with a postgraduate education think immigration should be increased, double the percentage among those with a high school education or less.

Preferences for U.S. Immigration Levels, by Party Identification and Education
In your view, should immigration be kept at its present level, increased or decreased?
Increased Present level Decreased
% % %
Party identification
Democrats 50 37 12
Independents 34 36 29
Republicans 10 31 57
Educational attainment
Postgraduate 50 23 27
College graduate only 37 39 24
Some college 31 34 31
High school or less 25 38 35
GALLUP, JUNE 1-JULY 5, 2021

Most Americans Continue to View Immigration Positively

Though Americans are divided on how immigration levels should change, they widely agree that immigration is “a good thing” for the country today. Three in four U.S. adults hold this view, while 21% disagree and say it is “a bad thing.”

At least seven in 10 Americans have viewed immigration positively since 2015, and majorities have consistently done so since Gallup first asked the question in 2001. At its lowest, 52% said immigration was a good thing in Gallup’s first post-9/11 reading in 2002.

Line graph. Belief that immigration is a good thing for the country today. Currently 75% of U.S. adults say it is a good thing and 21% bad thing. Majorities have consistently said it was a good thing, ranging from 52% to 77%.

Majorities of all key subgroups think immigration is good for the country today, with little difference by racial/ethnic group. However, significant gaps by party identification and education exist, as Republicans are less likely than Democrats and independents to view immigration positively, and fewer college nongraduates than college graduates say it is a good thing.

Views of Immigration as a Good or Bad Thing for the U.S. Today, by Subgroup
Good thing Bad thing
% %
Race/Ethnicity
Hispanic adults 80 16
Non-Hispanic White adults 73 23
Non-Hispanic Black adults 74 23
Party identification
Democrats 84 13
Independents 79 17
Republicans 57 39
Educational attainment
Postgraduate 85 13
College graduate only 85 11
Some college 72 24
High school or less 68 29
GALLUP, JUNE 1-JULY 5, 2021

Over the past decade, all major subgroups, with the exception of Republicans, have become significantly more inclined to see immigration as a good thing for the U.S. In 2011, 53% of Republicans viewed immigration positively, compared with 57% today. By contrast, the increases were 16 percentage points among independents (from 63% to 79%) and 23 points among Democrats (from 61% to 84%).

Bottom Line

Immigration remains a challenging issue, and Congress has not been able to agree on legislation to address the matter in a comprehensive way. Over the past decade, Americans’ views have shifted, with more favoring increased immigration.

This year has seen a dramatic increase in attempted border crossings, and the Biden administration struggled this spring to house thousands of unaccompanied minor children entering the U.S. at its border with Mexico. President Joe Biden and his advisers have told migrants not to leave their home countries. Amid all this, Americans’ views on immigration have held steady compared with what they were last year when Donald Trump, who took a much stricter stance against immigration, was in office.

Although there is general agreement among Americans that immigration is good for the country, their even division on whether immigration levels should be changed may be frustrating efforts to pass legislation. Moreover, Republicans and Democrats disagree about the proper level of immigration, as well as about the urgency of the problem, further hampering U.S. political leaders’ ability to find solutions to the issue.

Source: Americans Remain Divided on Preferred Immigration Levels

Canada No. 1 for Migrants, U.S. in Sixth Place

Given the contrast in media coverage and political discourse in both countries, would have expected a larger gap:

Canada and the U.S. remained among the most-accepting countries in the world for migrants in 2019. In fact, with a score of 8.46 (out of a possible 9.0) on Gallup’s second administration of its Migrant Acceptance Index, Canada, for the first time, led the rest of the world. The U.S. ranked sixth, with a score of 7.95.

Most-Accepting Countries for Migrants
Migrant Acceptance Index
Canada 8.46
Iceland 8.41
New Zealand 8.32
Australia 8.28
Sierra Leone 8.14
United States 7.95
Burkina Faso* 7.93
Sweden 7.92
Chad* 7.91
Ireland* 7.88
Rwanda 7.88
*Country not on the list in 2016-2017
GALLUP WORLD POLL, 2019

The index is based on three questions that Gallup asked in 140 countries in 2016 and 2017 and updated again in 145 countries in 2019. The questions ask whether people think migrants living in their country, becoming their neighbors and marrying into their families are good things or bad things.

The index is a sum of the points across the three questions, with a maximum possible score of 9.0 (all three are good things) and a minimum possible score of zero (all three are bad things). The higher the score, the more accepting the population is of migrants.

Both Canada and the U.S., which have long histories as receiving countries for migrants, made the most-accepting list in 2017 as well. Migration policies in each country have taken different paths since then, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opening Canada’s doors even wider, as President Donald Trump has tried to shut doors in the U.S. However, the acceptance of migrants among residents in each country has remained resolute and relatively unchanged from where they stood three years ago.

In Canada, residents almost universally saw migrants living in their country (94%) and being in their neighborhoods (95%) as good things, while more than nine in 10 (91%) said a migrant marrying into their family would be a good thing. Most Americans said the same, although not nearly to the same degree as Canadians. Nine in 10 (90%) said a migrant living in their neighborhood would be a good thing, and similar percentages said migrants living in their country (87%) and marrying into their families (85%) would be good things.

Migrant Acceptance Continues to Follow Political Fault Lines

As in 2017, migrant acceptance in both countries continues to be polarized. In the U.S., those who approved of Trump’s job performance scored a 7.10 out of a possible 9.0 on the Migrant Acceptance Index, while those who disapproved scored an 8.59 on the index. In Canada, those who approved of Trudeau’s job performance scored an 8.73, while the score was 8.21 among those who disapproved.

The same relationships persist, although not to the same degree, looking at approval of the country’s leadership in general.

Political Divides on Migration in Canada, U.S.
Migrant Acceptance Index
Americans
Approve of Trump 7.10
Disapprove of Trump 8.59
Approve of country’s leadership 7.10
Disapprove of country’s leadership 8.49
Canadians
Approve of Trudeau 8.73
Disapprove of Trudeau 8.21
Approve of country’s leadership 8.59
Disapprove of country’s leadership 8.31
GALLUP WORLD POLL, 2019

In the U.S., interestingly, there are differences in migrant acceptance among those who personally identified most with their city and country where they live (8.16) compared with those who identified most with their race or religion (7.69). In Canada, there were no differences in migrant acceptance based on how people identified themselves.

Most Educated in Each Country Are Most Accepting

For the most part, as it did in 2017, people’s acceptance of migrants follow the same patterns in both Canada and the U.S.: Acceptance is higher among those with the most education and among those living in urban areas.

Interestingly, the patterns by age in the two countries are different. In the U.S., acceptance was highest among the youngest Americans and then declined with age. Among Americans between the ages of 15 and 29, the index score was 8.34; it measured nearly a full point lower among those aged 65 and older (7.37). In Canada, there were no real statistical differences by age group.

Migrant Acceptance by Age in the U.S., Canada
Migrant Acceptance Index
Americans
15-29 8.34
30-44 8.11
45-54 8.04
55-64 7.79
65+ 7.37
Canadians
15-29* 8.32
30-44 8.54
45-54 8.53
55-64 8.41
65+ 8.51
*Difference not significant because of smaller sample sizes
GALLUP WORLD POLL, 2019

Bottom Line

Both Canada and the U.S. have long histories as receiving countries, but over the past several years, policies in each country have moved in opposite directions. Until the pandemic forced Canada to slow immigration to a trickle, the country was poised to admit more than 1 million permanent residents between 2019 and 2021, with targets increasing every year. In the U.S., the Trump administration is estimated to have cut legal immigration by almost half since taking office.

However, it appears that these changes in policies haven’t drastically changed most people’s acceptance of migrants. Residents in each country, and particularly in Canada, are accepting of the migrants who will continue to play a huge role in shaping their country’s future.

Source: https://news.gallup.com/poll/320669/canada-migrants-sixth-place.aspx

And for a broader take:

Global tolerance of migrants declined between 2016 and 2019, Gallup’s Migrant Acceptance Indexrevealed on Wednesday.

The survey showed that several of the least tolerant countries were from the EU. Member states met Wednesday to discuss a new joint migration policy.

The report gave countries scores based on the attitudes of respondents to the idea of migrants living in their country, moving into their neighborhood and marrying into their family. The average score globally fell from 5.34 in 2016 to 5.21 in 2019. Nne was the highest possible result.

The largest drop in tolerant attitudes towards migrants was seen in South America, where several countries have experienced a large influx of refugees from Venezuela. In Colombia, which bore the brunt of the exodus, the percentage of respondents with a positive view of migrants living in the country plummeted from 61% to 29%.

Belgium and Switzerland had some of the largest decreases in tolerant attitudes. Belgium, home to the European Parliament, saw its score fall by 1.33.

EU member states Hungary, Croatia, Latvia and Slovakia were among the top ten least accepting countries according to the poll, with a further four Balkan countries making it onto the list.

Another country which has played a significant role in the EU’s immigration policy was also revealed to have largely negative attitudes towards immigration. Turkey, which became home to some 4 million refugees as part of a deal with the European bloc, was the 10th least accepting country for migrants according to the data collected by Gallup.

However, one eastern European country with a traditionally low tolerance of immigration saw an increase in positive and tolerant attitudes. A share of 42% of Polish respondents said that they considered migrants living in the country as something good, up from 29% three years prior.

Which countries are most tolerant of immigration?

Canada topped the list for the countries most accepting of immigration — 94% of respondents had positive views of immigrants living in their country, followed by Iceland and New Zealand. Within the EU, only Sweden and Ireland made it into the top 10.

Despite a series of anti-immigration policies by President Donald Trump’s administration in the US, the country came in sixth place for its generally pro-immigration attitudes. When asked about immigrants moving into their neighborhood, 90% of US respondents said this was a good thing.

Among those who supported Trump, the average score was 7.1 out of nine. The biggest difference was between the younger and older generations with 16- to 29-year-olds scoring 8.34 and those older than 65 scoring around one point less, at 7.37.

Americans Want More, Not Less, Immigration for First Time

Behind all the extreme partisanship and polarization, and political gridlock, a significant finding from Gallup, coming closer to mirroring the Canadian pattern of thirds (one third for more, one third for less, one third for about the same), with of course the Republicans not having changed their anti-immigration beliefs:

Thirty-four percent of Americans, up from 27% a year ago, would prefer to see immigration to the U.S. increased. This is the highest support for expanding immigration Gallup has found in its trend since 1965. Meanwhile, the percentage favoring decreased immigration has fallen to a new low of 28%, while 36% think it should stay at the present level.

This marks the first time in Gallup’s trend that the percentage wanting increased immigration has exceeded the percentage who want decreased immigration.

Immigration1

Line graph. The rate of those who want immigration increase reaches historic high of 34%. 28% of Americans want immigration decrease, and 36% want immigration kept at current levels.

These results are from a Gallup poll conducted May 28-June 4 and predate the Donald Trump administration’s recent decision to halt issuing any new H-1B and other worker visas through the end of the year. It also preceded the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that invalidated the Trump administration’s action to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, which offers legal protection for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. In terms of a public focus, the topic of immigration may have currently taken a sideline to issues of race relations, but just two years ago, Americans cited it as the most important problem facing the country.

Desire for More Immigrants Rises Among Democrats and Independents

Support for increased immigration is at historic highs this year among both Democrats and political independents. Republicans’ views on increasing immigration have not changed much over the past decade. The rise among Democrats and independents coincides with a period of time when Republican leadership has attempted to limit immigration via physical barriers or changes to visa restrictions and de jure bans of immigrants from over 10 countries.

Immigration2

Line graph. Half of Democrats prefer to see immigration increased in US; 13% of Republicans agree. 34% of independents also favor higher levels of immigration.

Most Say Immigration Is Good for America

Nearly 8 in ten (77%) Americans think immigration is a good thing for their country. When measured in this more general sense, public support for immigration shows far less of a partisan divide, and both parties express a more generally positive view of immigration.

Immigration3

Line graph. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans say immigration is a good thing for America. This is virtually unchanged since 2018.

Bottom Line

Gallup’s 2020 update on Americans’ views about immigration finds that public attitudes toward immigration remain mostly positive overall, and support for expanding it is rising noticeably among Democrats and independents.

Immigration has been a key topic for President Trump since he arrived on the political scene. Yet many of his efforts, such as building a physical barrier across the border and opposing a path to citizenship for DACA immigrants, have failed to garner widespread support beyond his political base. But Trump may not be as concerned with getting majority support for his policies as he is in using the issue to energize his political base.

Trump’s policies and rhetoric on the issue are likely accomplishing that goal but may also be serving to make people outside his base more positive toward immigration.

Source: Americans Want More, Not Less, Immigration for First Time

It’s not just you: The world is becoming an angrier place

Some interesting polling differences:

Many of us experience the world from inside bubbles that tend to get rather heated when they’re exposed to the outside world – or to social media.

Twitter users, for instance, may wake up to @russianbot3526′s insults in the morning and go to bed after reading a blog post confirming their view that the world is going downhill.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, French President Macron’s warning that Europe is returning to the 1930s could at any given moment be competing for attention with stories on the perhaps “world’s worst famine in 100 years,” a colony of 40,000 innocent penguins facing extinction in Antarctica and, well, Pamela Anderson storming out of a fundraiser, in protest against the world’s focus on Notre Dame instead of other pressing issues that are threatening humanity.

Or maybe you are just reading about how your neighbours are preparing for the apocalypse (or Brexit) by stockpiling cans of tuna.

Sometimes, when the “happy mood” playlist you put on abruptly ends, that poses the question: Is it just me, or is the world around me really getting angrier?

Rest assured: It’s not just you.

Last year, 22 percent of respondents across 142 countries polled by Gallup globally said they felt angry, which was two percentage points higher than in 2017 and set a new record since the first such survey was conducted in 2006.

Globally, 39 percent of respondents said they faced “a lot of worry” – up one percentage point – and 31 percent even stated they “experienced a lot of physical pain.” Stress levels, however, slightly dropped from 37 percent two years ago to 35 percent last year, which is why the world stayed at its record-high level on the “World Negative Experience Index,” instead of getting even worse. The index is based on five measured negative emotions: anger, worry, sadness, stress and physical pain, with Chad being at the very bottom of the list and Taiwan having the least negative sentiments.

As it is almost always the case with global polls, there are some limitations of this survey, including different perceptions of emotions that may be due to cultural differences. Especially in developed nations, respondents may rate their situation to be bad, even though they would be considered lucky elsewhere.

Estonia, for instance, had some of the world’s lowest negative experiences, whereas fellow Baltic nation Lithuania ranked at the very top of negative experiences, next to Yemen and Afghanistan. Lithuania is part of the European Union and has been in the headlines for its “remarkable recovery” after the financial crisis, rather than the devastating wars plaguing Afghanistan or Yemen. Those figures suggest that anger, sadness and worries are defined very differently around the world.

When the U.N. examined the Gallup polls for 2013, 2014 and 2015 about three years ago, they found that – regardless of those definitions – there were six key indicators that explained why some countries were happier than others. Per capita domestic product certainly played a role, but wealth was in some cases trumped by other factors, such as healthy years of life expectancy, freedom, trust in business and government, but also by things that are hard to measure and thus often ignored by politicians: generosity, for instance, and having someone who has your back in times of crisis.

That latter aspect – social support – was in fact among the three most important criteria, besides income and healthy life expectancy.

The fact that happiness and positive experiences aren’t only tied to financial rewards has convinced some Western governments, including New Zealand, to launch programs to boost social support and well-being as part of government budgets.

Those initiatives still lag far behind the seemingly effortless happiness of parts of Latin America, according to the latest Gallup poll, where financial resources might be scarce -but so are negative sentiments, on average.

“Latin Americans may not always rate their lives the best (like the Nordic countries), but they laugh, smile and experience enjoyment like no one else in the world,” wrote Jon Clifton, global managing partner at Gallup.

Of course, you wouldn’t think so by scrolling your news feed and reading the comments beneath stories on the “migrant caravan,” the “unique kind of financial crisis” that’ll haunt Brazil or Peru’s “health emergency.”

Source: It’s not just you: The world is becoming an angrier place