Americans Have Become Dramatically More Concerned About Immigration

Jason Hopkins | Immigration and politics reporter

A significantly higher percentage of Americans listed immigration as an issue they hope the federal government will work to address in 2019.

Forty-nine percent of Americans chose immigration as a top priority. The numbers are a far climb from the same poll in December 2017 in which only 27 percent of respondents singled out immigration as a top concern. Such an increase indicates President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigration, and the battle in Congress, is grabbing the nation’s attention.

The survey — conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research — asked respondents to choose which issues they hoped the government would solve in 2019, allowing them to pick up to five different categories. The “economy/economic issues” grabbed a commanding lead, with 62 percent of respondents listing it as a problem. “Immigration” tied with “health care” for second place.

Unsurprisingly, the priority Americans take on immigration varies among partisan affiliation.

Sixty-five percent of Republican respondents chose immigration as one of their top five concerns, whereas only 37 percent of Democrats did the same thing. However, both parties saw marked increases over the past year with 42 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats listing immigration as a top issue when the survey was conducted in December 2017.

“We waste too many resources with illegal aliens,” David Hoyt, a registered Republican living in Iowa and a retired school superintendent, told the AP. “If people want to come here, let’s have them do it legally. I don’t understand why people don’t understand the word ‘illegal.'”

Since entering the Oval Office, Trump remained vocal about addressing illegal immigration on the country’s southern border. The federal government is under a partial shutdown as congressional Democrats and the White House continue to spar over proposed funding for a wall on U.S.-Mexico border. Trump indicated he is willing to let the government shutdown remain in place for months — even years — until Democrats relent on spending for a border wall.

ICE immigration Getty Images/John Moore

ICE immigration Getty Images/John Moore

“Without borders, I’ve said it many times, we don’t have a country. I hope it doesn’t go on even beyond a few more days. It really could open very quickly,” the president told reporters Friday.

Actions taken by the American public also indicate a surge in concern over illegal immigration. A GoFundMe page asking for donations to pay for Trump’s border wall has so far accumulated over $18 million from more than 300,000 donors — numerous donors have given $10,000 or more. (RELATED: Trump Open To Using Emergency Powers To Build Wall)

The AP-NORC survey reached 1,067 adults and was conducted between Dec. 13 and 16. The poll has a margin-of-error of 4.1 percentage points.

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