Poll: Majority of Americans Do Not Favor Higher Legal Immigration, Recognize Current Levels

Article publisher: 
NumbersUSA / Rasmussen
Article date: 
20 June 2014
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

A new Rasmussen poll finds only 31 percent favor increasing immigration and that may be because only 18 percent of Americans think legal immigration is running higher than 500,000 per year. The real rate is more than a million per year. 58 percent of respondents either supported lower immigration levels or maintaining current levels.

The poll found that 31percent of Americans support increasing the number of legal immigrants into the country if the United States can fully secure the border and prevent future illegal immigration. 29 percent say the United States should decrease legal immigration levels, and 29 percent would rather retain current legal immigration levels. Therefore, a total of 58 percent do not want to increase legal immigration levels.

The numbers that want to increase legal immigration are up slightly from one year ago. Over the last year, business groups seeking higher levels of immigration have advertised heavily to make their case.

But another poll finding suggests that Americans do not recognize that the United States already takes in over one million legal immigrants per year. The survey question asks: “Approximately how many immigrants legally enter the United States each year - 100,000, 250,000, 500,000, 1 million, 2.5 million, 5 million or more than 5 million?” The results were:

  • 11% think about 100,000 enter legally each year;
  • 16% @ 250,000;
  • 14% @ 500,000;
  • 12% @ 1 million;
  • 4% @ 2.5 million;
  • 1% @ 5 million;
  • 1% @ More than 5 million; and
  • 41% are not sure.

So a total of 41 percent think we take in 500,000 or fewer immigrants, which are more in line with traditional immigration norms prior to the mid-1960s, and 41 percent aren't sure. If the question was worded to inform respondents about the actual level of immigration, it could shift more Americans into the immigration-reduction category. Clarifying that legal immigrants get work permits would likely further the shift.