No more of your huddled masses

May 30, 2013, 6:31 PM GMT+0

Americans don't want to cut immigration in general, but are less than lukewarm towards welcoming unskilled immigrants to the United States

Historically, the United States has often been viewed as a place where anyone the world over could come to make a better life for themselves. This ideal was most famously captured in the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free".

New research from YouGov, however, shows that Americans are rather split on whether America should still attempt to conform to this ideal. The government currently runs a lottery, popularly known as the "green card lottery" where 55,000 people who are not otherwise eligible to immigrate to the US can, after background checks, legally move to the US. According to some, this lottery is the last opportunity for the destitute of other countries to come start a new life in America.

In order to increase the number of visas issued to highly skilled tech workers, however, Congress has considered cutting the number of visas issued to unskilled workers in the green card lottery. While in the eyes of some, this might mean distancing America's from a historical ideal of immigration, 46% of Americans would support increasing the number of high skilled tech workers at expense of unskilled workers. 30% would be against it.

Americans were split too on the more general question of whether the United States should be welcoming unskilled immigrants at all. 41% of Americans thought the United States should allow some unskilled workers without relatives in the U.S. to immigrate here, but 44% said they should not.

Responses to the question had a partisan slant: 54% of Democrats believe the US should let in some unskilled workers while 59% of Republicans think it should not.

While Americans are weary towards unskilled immigrants, they are not against immigration in general. The majority of Americans believe that we should not decrease the number of immigrants to the United States, albeit only 19% thought that the number of legal immigrants to the United States should be increased.

Opinion on overall legal immigration has not significantly changed since when we last asked the question in 2011.