Gallup: Under Trump, Fewer Republicans Want Less Immigration

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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A significant number of Republican voters have changed their views about reducing immigration levels since President Donald Trump was elected in November.

Less than half — 48 percent — of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents now think the government should act to decrease immigration, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. One year ago, during the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, that figure was 60 percent.

The drop is a substantial change among GOP voters, many of whom voted for Trump because of his promises to tamp down on illegal immigration and, in some cases, legal guest worker programs such as the H-1B visa. Last summer, only about a quarter of Republicans were satisfied with immigration levels, but today 37 percent say they would keep immigration levels where they are.

The cause of the changing attitudes among GOP voters is unclear, but Gallup suggests the shift could stem from a sense of political victory among Trump supporters who are confident that the president is following through on the immigration-related promises he made during the campaign.

While Trump has thus far been unable to deliver on some signature promises, such as building a border wall or rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, he has initiated tougher interior enforcement and moved to increase deportations of criminal aliens. Those policies appear to be having the desired effect, as apprehensions of illegal border-crossers have declined sharply while immigration arrests have jumped. (RELATED: Immigration Arrests Jump Nearly 40 Percent Under Trump)

“Republicans could, thus, feel more satisfied with the current status of immigration than they did during the height of the presidential election,” writes Gallup analyst Justin McCarthy. “Also, some Trump supporters might believe immigrants are being more thoroughly vetted by the Trump administration.”

Overall, 35 percent of Americans think immigration should be decreased, 38 percent want it to stay at the current level and 24 percent think the U.S. should bring in more immigrants. Those numbers were little changed from 2016, when 38 percent of all voters thought the level of immigration should go down, another 38 percent said it should stay the same and 21 percent wanted more immigration.

Despite the change among GOP voters and right-leaning Independents, collective perception of immigration levels remained relatively constant because of an uptick in the number of Democratic voters who now want less immigration. This year, 23 percent of Democrats and left-leaning Independents say immigration should be reduced, up from the 20 percent in 2016.

Results for the Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews with with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The poll, conducted June 7 to June 11, 2017, has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

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