Polls show Americans are closer to Democrats than Donald Trump on immigration
President Trump has proposed what he calls a “fair compromise” with Congress on immigration policy, with four main components:
Item one is a concession to Democrats in Congress; items two through four are immigration restrictionist priorities that Trump and his allies on the issue have long wanted. The Cato Institute’s David Bier and Stuart Anderson estimate that the package would result in a 44 percent cut in legal immigration, while the Center for Global Development’s Michael Clemens and Jimmy Graham note that the package would disproportionately reduce the flow of black, Hispanic, and Muslim immigrants.
Trump cannot pass this plan without significant support from Senate Democrats, who otherwise can choose to filibuster and block it. And a growing number of commentators are urging Democrats to accept a deal along these lines and embrace the possibility of a grand bargain on the issue. To do otherwise would be to embrace an extreme pro-immigration stance that’s out of line with the country.
The fact of the matter is, though, that while relief for DREAMers is wildly popular with the American public, a border wall and reducing immigration levels are not. As you might imagine, most Americans don’t have especially detailed views on specific questions of immigration policy, like “should we end the diversity visa lottery” or “should we change the standards for family sponsorship,” and polling on those kinds of specifics is all over the place.
But on the big questions, the prevailing public sentiment is reasonably clear: People want relief for DREAMers. They don’t want a border wall. And they want immigration levels kept constant or increased, not lowered. It’s totally in line with public sentiment for Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans in Congress to insist on a deal that helps DREAMers without building a wall or cracking down on immigration.
People love the DREAM Act, don’t want a border wall
The incredibly useful polling aggregator Polling Report has a rundown of recent surveys asking Americans if they’d support a bill that “allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the United States legally,” to quote Quinnipiac’s exact wording. The phrasing differs from poll to poll, but the findings are remarkably consistent and overwhelming:
- Quinnipiac, January 19-23, 2018: 75 percent support such a bill, 18 percent oppose it.
- ABC News/Washington Post, January 15-18, 2018: 87 percent support a “program that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States if they arrived here as a child, completed high school or military service and have not been convicted of a serious crime”; only 11 percent oppose.
- CNN, January 14-15 and 17-18, 2018: 84 percent want to continue Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program (“a U.S. government program allows some immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the U.S. without risk of deportation. To qualify, immigrants had to be under the age of 30 as of 2012, have no criminal record, and be a student, in the military, or have earned a high school diploma.”); 11 percent want to end it.
- CBS News, January 13-16, 2018: 87 percent favor “allowing young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country if they meet certain requirements such as going to school or joining the military, and not having a criminal record”; only 11 percent oppose.
- Pew Research Center, January 10-15, 2018: 74 percent favor a law granting “permanent legal status” to “immigrants who came illegally to the U.S. when they were children”; 21 percent oppose.
- NBC News/Wall Street Journal, December 13-15, 2017: 62 percent support continuing DACA; 19 percent supporting ending it.
- Marist, December 4-7, 2017: 58 percent want to let DREAMers become citizens, 23 percent want to let them stay not as citizens, 15 percent want to deport them.
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