Most Americans support asylum only for Afghans who helped the U.S. military

September 23, 2021, 4:35 PM UTC

In recent months’ polls, Americans consistently have supported offering political asylum to Afghans who helped United States forces during their 20-year military engagement in Afghanistan. But far fewer Americans want to offer asylum to other Afghan civilians who are fleeing violence. 

This week’s Economist/YouGov Poll finds major differences in Americans’ willingness to accept Afghan refugees, depending on whether they helped U.S. troops during the war. The gap is especially large among American veterans, who are more supportive than Americans overall about granting asylum to Afghans who helped American troops, but less supportive of taking in the larger number of Afghan civilians fleeing violence in Afghanistan.

The issue of immigration, more broadly, is prominent this week for many Americans — particularly Republicans. This week immigration is the top issue for more Republicans than any other issue. One in five Republicans say that immigration is their most important issue, outpacing jobs, national security, and taxes. The share of Republicans who name immigration as their most important issue is more than six times the share of Democrats who do, as well as more than twice the share of Independents. The poll was conducted as thousands of would-be immigrants, mostly from Haiti, were being removed from their camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. 

Members of the two major U.S. political parties often differ on what matters most: Republicans usually care more about national security and taxes while Democrats prioritize different domestic issues, such as health care. While Democrats put climate change and the environment closely behind health care as their top issue, for Republicans climate change is tied for fifth.

But climate is rising as a Republican priority: the percentage of Republicans naming it as their top issue has increased after the recent flooding, fires, drought, and heat waves.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. Adult Citizens interviewed online between September 18 - 21, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty