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.
In contrast, Rasmussen’s response suggested that only 5 percent of entrepreneurs, 9 percent of investors, and 1 percent of people who earn more than $200,000 per year know the correct level.
People’s preferences are clearer, according to the Rasmusen poll.
Thirty-eight percent want an immigration decrease, and 26 percent want an increase in immigration after the border is secured. Forty-four percent of people who earn less than $30,000 per year, and 13 percent of people who earn more that $200,000, want a decrease.
The group most supportive of an immigration increase was younger women, where support stood at 59 percent, but only if the country’s borders are secured. Thirty-eight percent of government employees and 38 percent of people who earn more than $200,000 prefer an increase. Fifty-one percent of Republicans and 36 percent of Democrats want a decrease, while only 19 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats want an increase.
African-Americans were the most sharply divided racial group. Just eight percent supported an increase in immigration, and 43 percent wanted a decrease.
Fifty-three percent percent of Americans want all potential immigrants to be treaty fairly, but 81 percent want better screening of people from “countries with terrorist ties,” and 46 percent would prefer immigrants “who could most help the U.S. economy.”
Rasmussen’s survey showed that 50 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats are watching the debate closely.
Parents oppose an increase by 42 percent to 20 percent, while people without children split 37 percent against to 29 percent for an increase.
Wealthier people sharply favored an increase 38 percent to 13 percent, while people who earned less than $200,000 a year sharply favored a decrease. Forty-four percent of people who earn less than $30,000 preferred a reduction, while only 15 percent favored an increase
“People recognize that we are a nation of immigrants and of laws … [and] want our policy to reflect both pillars of that tradition,” Rasmussen said in a statement to The Daily Caller. But “they fear that the federal government is not interested in enforcing the laws … [and] does not value U.S. citizenship as highly as it should,” he said.
“This leads to a lot of anger over immigration, but it’s important to recognize that the anger is directed primarily at the federal government, not at immigrants,” he added.
The 867-page Senate immigration bill is expected to provide amnesties to at least 11 million illegal immigrants, bring in another 20 million people over the next decade, accelerate the future inflow of immigrants’ relatives, increase the supply of agricultural laborers, and boost the annual inflow of blue-collar and professional guest-workers above 1 million.
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