A growing number of Americans say immigration makes the country worse off

October 05, 2021, 2:12 PM UTC

Three in four Americans believe the United States is a nation of immigrants, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll. But the share of Americans who think immigration has made the country worse has declined in recent months, and many believe President Joe Biden should be taking a harder line on the issue.

A majority of Republicans now say immigration makes the country worse off, while Democrats overwhelmingly disagree. But partisanship isn’t the only thing determining how people feel about immigration. The further away someone is personally from an immigrant ancestor, the less likely one is to think of immigration as good for the country.

This opinion has been affected by recent immigration events. In late June, before Afghans and Haitians fleeing violence sought U.S. asylum, Americans were twice as likely to believe immigration helped make the country better than to believe it made the country worse. Although many Republicans in June also had a negative feeling about the impact of immigration, that percentage rose 23 points in just three months. 

There is even less support for allowing Haitians to come to the U.S. While 35% of Americans disapprove of the deportation of several thousand Haitian people trying to enter the country at the Texas-Mexico border, more (44%) approve. Republicans overwhelmingly approve of sending the Haitian migrants back to Haiti. About half of Independents approve, while most Democrats and half of Black Americans do not.

Immigration is now an issue that hurts President Biden even with his base. More than one-third of Democrats disapprove of his handling of the issue.

What most people who disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration want is for the president to take a harder line in his immigration policy. Although a majority of Democrats (53%) who disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration say his policies have been too hard, a majority of all the people who disapprove (73%) don’t believe his policies have been hard enough. 

Immigration

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 26 - 28, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 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 2.7% for the overall sample. 

Image: Photo by Christian Domingues from Pexels