Opinions on immigration similar among the public, striking among parties


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A national Spectrum News-Ipsos poll asking Americans what they think about immigration policy seems to indicate that, despite sometimes significant cultural differences across the country, the general public is less divided than partisan rhetoric might leave suppose.

California views, in particular, seem to reflect much of the rest of the country – only in rare cases have the Golden State’s responses strayed by more than 10% from the views of the rest of the nation.


What would you like to know

  • New poll found Americans have many common feelings about immigration, but the biggest differences match political differences
  • The Spectrum News-Ipsos poll sampled more than 2,000 responses across the United States, including California
  • Responses appear to show Americans across states and party lines apparently support increased federal enforcement along the border, as well as greater reform.

“There are still a lot of similarities between the ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states in what people believe, and a lot of people who are in the middle, caught between the two extremes,” said Morris Levy, assistant professor. in Political Science at the University of Southern California.

However, one poll analyst observed that a person’s political identity is often the best indicator of their feelings about immigration.

“There is very little difference between Californians and the American public as a whole. Where you see the differences emerging is that at the end of the day, immigration is always viewed through a partisan lens, ”said Mallory Newall, director of public affairs for Ipsos. “While we see commonalities across state and nationally, there are major divisions on this issue, primarily based on political affiliation.”

This Spectrum News-Ipsos poll coincides with a Spectrum News series examining issues along the US-Mexico border from Texas to California. For two weeks, Spectrum News reporters travel nearly 2,000 miles along the border, telling stories from the ground.

The survey consisted of interviews with more than 2,000 respondents – a representative sample of 1,005 from across the country, as well as a targeted sample of 505 responses from Californians.

“One striking thing is how widespread support is for funding immigration law enforcement and the active role that Americans and the residents of these border states want the federal government to play in the process. application, ”Newall said.

Seventy-three percent of Californians surveyed agree with increased criminal penalties for smugglers of immigrants entering the United States illegally, 59% agree with increased federal funding for enforcement. immigration laws and 57% agree with the imposition of economic sanctions to encourage Mexico to reduce migration and drug trafficking in the US

Sixty percent of Californians surveyed also believe employers should prioritize hiring Americans over immigrants when jobs are scarce, reflecting the views of the national sample.

“Looking at those numbers, what this tells me is that overall Americans and Californians… think the border situation is a problem,” Newall said. “But at the same time, I think it also shows how multifaceted people’s opinions about immigration and immigrants can be. Just because they want stricter enforcement does not mean they are not in favor of further reforms.

As an example, Newall cited responses to a question asking whether anyone living in the United States without legal permission should be able to pursue a path to U.S. citizenship: a majority of respondents, including 64 percent of Californians and 61% of the national sample, agreed.

One point that caught Levy’s attention was the response to a statement asking whether “immigrants are more likely to commit crimes or be incarcerated than the US-born population.” Only 21% of Californians (and 22% of the national sample) agreed.

This response tells him that the “Trumpian rhetoric” about immigrants has not necessarily stuck with the mainstream.

By digging deeper into the party line responses, however, the split was sharper. Among the national poll sample, 41% of Republicans agreed that immigrants were more likely to commit crimes, compared to just 9% of Democrats. (Thirty-nine percent of Republicans disagreed with this statement, compared to 81 percent of Democrats.)

Levy has observed a decided “pro-immigrant” shift in public opinion over the past decade, despite an increase in nativist rhetoric – such as former President Donald Trump’s infamous claims that Mexican immigrants “bring drugs, they bring crime, they ‘against rapists.

Californians, therefore, found little common ground with Trump’s immigration policies. Only 18% of Californians surveyed approved of the administration’s old policies. In contrast, 56% of Californians support the policies of President Joe Biden, while 45% support the state-level policies of Governor Gavin Newsom.

Vice-president and former Californian senator, Kamala Harris enjoys a plurality of supporters of Californians, with 49% approval of her positions on immigration.

The fact that the majority disagree with the idea that migrants commit more crimes than Americans despite inflammatory rhetoric, he said, seems positive.

“It could be my own bias,” Levy admitted. “But no matter what you think of immigration, it’s probably good that people make up their own minds and don’t just trust what partisan leaders say.”

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