Only ten percent of Americans know that 1 million legal immigrants arrive each year, according to a new poll.
One-in-eight Americans incorrectly believe the inflow of immigrants is only 250,000 people per year, while 56 percent of adults believe fewer legal immigrants arrive than than illegal immigrants, according to the May 16 poll by Rasmussen Reports.
In fact, the inflow of illegals from Mexico has dropped below 200,000, and may be less than the flow of illegal immigrants back home, according to a May report by the Pew Research Hispanic Center.
The inflow of illegal immigrants was roughly 600,000 persons a year during the boom period from 1995 to 2008, but has dropped since the economic crash in 2008, leaving the country with a population of at least 11 million illegal immigrants. Mexico provided roughly 70 percent of the illegal flow.
Companies bring in roughly 650,000 guest-workers each year to work for a few months or up to seven years, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Another 50,000 guest-workers work in agriculture. The flow of guest workers ensures there’s a year-round population of more than 1 million guest workers in the country, most of whom have university degrees.
These big numbers rarely get published in articles about immigration, despite the controversy over the Senate’s pending rewrite of the immigration bill.
Advocates for the bill are reluctant to say how many people it will bring to the country.
Lead author Sen. Chuck Schumer, for example, says it will actually reduce the current inflow by reducing he arrival of illegal immigrants. That’s the same pitch made by the Center for American Progress, a White House ally, which discounts the amnesty of 11 million illegal immigrants on the grounds that they’re already in the United States.
Opponents of the bill, such as Sen. Jeff Sessions, cite studies showing that the bill would boost the inflow beyond 30 million — including at least 11 million illegal immigrants — over the next decade, and roughly 1.5 million per year thereafter.
“It’s no surprise that voters don’t know a lot of specifics about immigration policy… [because] what I’ve always found is that once people hear how high immigration is, they get skeptical quick,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Politicians have an incentive to talk about illegal immigration rather than legal immigration, he said. “Politicians find it convenient to focus their rhetoric on illegal immigration while at the same time using legal immigration policy as a form of corporate welfare,” he said.
Thirty-two percent of Rasmussen’s respondents believe immigration is less than 1 million per year, and seven percent believe it is more than 2.5 million per year. Fifty-one percent of 1,000 respondent in the poll said they don’t know how many people come into the country.
The sub-group with the most accurate understanding of the numbers is African-Americans, 23 percent of whom correctly estimated an inflow one million legal immigrants per year.