What do Americans really think about illegal immigration?
Recent polling data about the controversial and often polarized issue of illegal immigration, if accurate, suggests that a cross-section of the American public may agree to some extent with the hardline enforcement stance of presidential candidate Donald Trump, the current GOP front-runner for election 2016.
Among other proposals related to illegal immigration, Trump favors stepped up deportation on a large scale, building a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border, hiring more Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, expediting the removal of criminal aliens, and prohibiting sanctuary cities. In August, the Washington Post reported that “certain specific policies in the Trump plan receive widespread public support.”
Results of any national survey depends on (and can be subject to manipulation with) the precise wording of the questions and the answers from which the respondents must choose, as well as sample size and methodology. With terms like margin of error tossed around, polling firms also have track records that vary considerably in terms of reliability or fairness.
If accurate, however, these findings generally run counter to the prevailing media narrative as well as conventional pundit-driven wisdom across the ideological spectrum that illegal immigration is too hot for the political class to handle.
A YouGov poll, for example, recently indicated that 92 percent of Americans believe that illegal immigration is a problem, with 75 percent deeming it of a serious magnitude. About half favored providing a pathway to citizenship for those who have entered the country illegally, while 61 percent concluded that mass deportations are unrealistic.
An Investor’s Business Daily poll found that nearly 60 percent of the public favors Trump-style mandatory deportations, although slightly less than half favor the Trump wall.
Similarly, 80 percent of Americans rate illegal immigration as a serious problem according to Rasmussen. A separate Rasmussen survey found that 51 percent of Americans (and 70 percent of Republicans) favor building a border wall, and 80 percent (including 92 percent of Republicans) support the deportation of criminal aliens.
In an overview of past surveys, the Pew Research Center claimed that “Among the public overall, there is little support for an effort to deport all those in the U.S. illegally, but surveys in past years have found greater support for building a barrier along the Mexican border and for changing the Constitution to ban birthright citizenship.”
In a survey presumably focusing on legal immigration, Gallup Poll data revealed among other things that two-thirds of U.S. Hispanic residents (whether born in America or elsewhere) agree that immigration should either be kept at present levels or even decreased. However, as Breitbart News observed, Gallup seemed to have buried the lede. “Sixty-four percent of each group of Hispanics want migration to be reduced or leveled, said Gallup, which released the report under a misleading headline, ‘U.S. Support for Increased Immigration Up to 25%.'”
Overall, about 75 percent of the U.S. public favors either keeping the level of immigration the way it is now or decreasing it, Gallup determined. Apart from the estimated 11 million-plus illegal aliens on American soil, about one million legal immigrants are admitted to the country ever year.
“Nearly three-fourths of U.S. adults say that, on the whole, immigration is a good thing for the country, a continued affirmation for a practice that has been a core feature of the American experience,” Gallup added.
Parenthetically, historian Victor Davis Hanson, who is not a Donald Trump fan, suggests that the targeted deportation of a relatively small percentage of illegal immigrants with a previous encounter with the criminal justice system is a far better approach than the unworkable mass deportations of many hard-working, although undocumented, individuals who have developed deep ties to America.
“Every day, thousands of illegal aliens file false federal affidavits, use phony Social Security numbers, employ fake IDs, are pulled over for DUIs, and shoot and steal — the very violations of the laws that sanctuary cities sought to nullify. The crimes are apparently numerous enough occurrences to win the attention of sanctuary cities, which would not exist if illegal aliens were all, as implied, ‘dreamers.’ In sum, government agencies would need only to follow passive enforcement of the law, and allow illegal aliens to come into contact with legal authorities of various sorts rather that conduct deportation raids. ICE, then, would need only to deport those who had criminal holds on them as they insidiously came into contact with the criminal justice system. The number and frequency of those encounters could be quite substantial each day and cumulatively so by year’s end.”
According to statistics compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies, about 51 percent of legal immigrant-headed households in the U.S. collect some form of welfare; that increases to 62 percent for illegal immigrant households.
Given some of this newer polling data, do you think presidential candidate Donald Trump reflects or doesn’t reflect the views of ordinary Americans about illegal immigration?
[Photos by John Moore and David McNew/Getty Images News]