Poll: 61% of Americans believe all immigration detrimental to the country

Compared to previous polls on the subject of immigration, this survey commissioned by management consulting firm A.T. Kearney shows a markedly negative attitude by Americans toward all immigration – not just illegal.

Sixty-one percent of Americans in the survey believe that "continued immigration into the country jeopardizes the United States."  The explanations for the turnaround are unconvincing.

Bloomberg:

The political climate may help account for Americans' immigration fears, says Paul Laudicina, chairman of the Global Business Policy Council, which is a unit of A.T. Kearney. "Given what's going on in the national discourse and the desperate state of national politics ... it makes people vulnerable to jingoistic sloganeering," he said in an interview.

A belief that immigration jeopardizes the U.S. was common across age groups, although highest among baby boomers (65 percent) and lowest among millennials (55 percent). By education, it was highest among those with just a high school education or some college (65 percent), and by region it was highest in the South, including Texas (66 percent).

There were lots of other sour findings in the survey. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with the statement "I’m not confident in the U.S. economy’s ability to return to stronger growth." Fifty-two percent agreed, "U.S. businesses will be increasingly uncompetitive." And 51 percent agreed, "My vote doesn’t matter because politics in Washington will never change."

On the plus side, 85 percent of respondents agreed, "Technological progress in a range of sectors will boost U.S. productivity and economic growth."

"American public opinion is very much in a state of flux," says Laudicina. "You can make a case that people are more reasonable and more optimistic than you would be willing to guess based on the nature of the political dialogue."

The A.T. Kearney survey seems to show more negativity toward immigration than other recent surveys, although it's hard to tell because each one uses its own question wording. A Pew Research Center study conducted in August through October found that 53 percent of respondents thought immigration strengthened the U.S. vs. 38 percent who thought it burdened the U.S. In a Gallup Poll in June, 34 percent of respondents favored a decrease in immigration, 25 percent favored an increase, and 40 percent favored keeping it at current levels.

What is clear is that Americans are more down on immigration than in past eras. As recently as 2002, the Harris Poll found that only 1 percent of Americans mentioned immigration, including refugees, when asked to name the two most important issues for the government to address. That rose to 19 percent last year.

I'm not sure that too many Americans give much thought to the problem of assimilating the new arrivals.  But those who do are clearly alarmed at the prospect of altering the ethnic makeup of America so completely.  Most Americans don't oppose some legal immigration.  But the situation is out of control, and Americans are turning to candidates who are promising relief.

I believe that the overriding concern about immigration is that there are simply too many newcomers – legal and illegal – and that the economy and our communities cannot absorb them fast enough.  Yesterday, I posted the startling numbers from the Center for Immigration Studies that showed the number of legal and illegal immigrants in America at 60 million – almost 19% of the population – with 15.7 million being illegal.  In 1970, the percent of immigrants in the U.S. was 6.6%.

The Republican candidates are, for the most part, on the side of the American people on this issue.  You will note that the Democrats rarely even mention immigration in their debates.  No doubt, they wish the issue would just go away.  But no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, you are going to see him or her moving toward the Republican view of the issue.  Otherwise, they risk a backlash by the voters that could cost them the election.

 

Compared to previous polls on the subject of immigration, this survey commissioned by management consulting firm A.T. Kearney shows a markedly negative attitude by Americans toward all immigration – not just illegal.

Sixty-one percent of Americans in the survey believe that "continued immigration into the country jeopardizes the United States."  The explanations for the turnaround are unconvincing.

Bloomberg:

The political climate may help account for Americans' immigration fears, says Paul Laudicina, chairman of the Global Business Policy Council, which is a unit of A.T. Kearney. "Given what's going on in the national discourse and the desperate state of national politics ... it makes people vulnerable to jingoistic sloganeering," he said in an interview.

A belief that immigration jeopardizes the U.S. was common across age groups, although highest among baby boomers (65 percent) and lowest among millennials (55 percent). By education, it was highest among those with just a high school education or some college (65 percent), and by region it was highest in the South, including Texas (66 percent).

There were lots of other sour findings in the survey. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with the statement "I’m not confident in the U.S. economy’s ability to return to stronger growth." Fifty-two percent agreed, "U.S. businesses will be increasingly uncompetitive." And 51 percent agreed, "My vote doesn’t matter because politics in Washington will never change."

On the plus side, 85 percent of respondents agreed, "Technological progress in a range of sectors will boost U.S. productivity and economic growth."

"American public opinion is very much in a state of flux," says Laudicina. "You can make a case that people are more reasonable and more optimistic than you would be willing to guess based on the nature of the political dialogue."

The A.T. Kearney survey seems to show more negativity toward immigration than other recent surveys, although it's hard to tell because each one uses its own question wording. A Pew Research Center study conducted in August through October found that 53 percent of respondents thought immigration strengthened the U.S. vs. 38 percent who thought it burdened the U.S. In a Gallup Poll in June, 34 percent of respondents favored a decrease in immigration, 25 percent favored an increase, and 40 percent favored keeping it at current levels.

What is clear is that Americans are more down on immigration than in past eras. As recently as 2002, the Harris Poll found that only 1 percent of Americans mentioned immigration, including refugees, when asked to name the two most important issues for the government to address. That rose to 19 percent last year.

I'm not sure that too many Americans give much thought to the problem of assimilating the new arrivals.  But those who do are clearly alarmed at the prospect of altering the ethnic makeup of America so completely.  Most Americans don't oppose some legal immigration.  But the situation is out of control, and Americans are turning to candidates who are promising relief.

I believe that the overriding concern about immigration is that there are simply too many newcomers – legal and illegal – and that the economy and our communities cannot absorb them fast enough.  Yesterday, I posted the startling numbers from the Center for Immigration Studies that showed the number of legal and illegal immigrants in America at 60 million – almost 19% of the population – with 15.7 million being illegal.  In 1970, the percent of immigrants in the U.S. was 6.6%.

The Republican candidates are, for the most part, on the side of the American people on this issue.  You will note that the Democrats rarely even mention immigration in their debates.  No doubt, they wish the issue would just go away.  But no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, you are going to see him or her moving toward the Republican view of the issue.  Otherwise, they risk a backlash by the voters that could cost them the election.