Americans tagged illegal immigration as the nation’s most important problem in July, according to Gallup.
Seventeen percent of 1,013 Americans — and 23 percent of GOP supporters — surveyed by Gallup in July identified “immigration/illegal aliens” as their top political priority.
They edged out respondents who cited “dissatisfaction with government” by one point, respondents who cited the “economy in general” by two points, and respondents who said “unemployment/jobs” by three points, the Gallup report said.
That’s a startling change from June, when immigration was ranked as the top issue by only five percent of Gallup’s respondents.
The change happened after news outlets began focusing on the growing flood of Central American migrants who are crossing the Texas border.
Officials expect 90,000 youths and 150,000 additional people in “family units” to arrive in the 12 months up to October.
At least 30,000 youths had already arrived since 2011.
The inflow is growing, partly because President Barack Obama says he can’t stop the flow until he gets more money and authority from Congress.
His congressional allies, including the Hispanic caucus, say they oppose any new authority to block the inflow of migrants, most of whom are Hispanics.
The Gallup poll showed that only 11 percent of Democrats said immigration is the nation’s top problem.
Other polls taken in June and early July show the public blames Obama and his policies for the new flood, and also opposes the additional immigration sought by progressives and business leaders.
The public’s increased focus on immigration could shape the November election, even though 41 percent of people cited various economic issues as their top priority, Gallup reported.
“While the 17% of Americans naming immigration as the top problem is not large in absolute terms, the fact that the issue is of particular concern to Republicans and older Americans — both groups that Republicans need to turn out in force in the midterms — could be critical to the outcome,” said the Gallup statement.