Proposals to reduce legal immigration, give preferences to immigrants with advanced skills and education, and crack down on companies that hire illegal immigrants are often considered “extreme” in the nation’s capital.
But throughout most of the rest of America, they are common sense, according to a new poll measuring voter sentiment on the contentious issues ahead of this year’s midterm elections.
The survey, conducted by The Polling Company Inc. on behalf of NumbersUSA, found widespread support among likely midterm voters for proposals that are part of immigration legislation offered House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
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The survey included interviews with 1,000 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
“Most of the political elite just totally haven’t understood that Americans for a long, long time have wanted a legal immigration cut,” said NumbersUSA President Roy Beck, whose group lobbies for a reduction in migration to the United States.
Some highlights of the poll results include:
- Fifty-nine percent said new immigrants should be able to bring in their spouses and minor children, but not extended family members.
- When respondents were told the United States awards 1 million green cards a year and gives six different choices for possible immigration levels, the most popular range was 250,000 or less. Nearly half — 49 percent — chose that option, which is well below any proposed to date by politicians in Washington. Only 17 percent chose the status quo or an immigration increase.
- Told Congress is considering eliminating 250,000 “chain migration” visas a year, respondents by a margin of 53 percent to 24 percent favored reducing immigration rather than redistributing those visas to allow businesses to bring in more foreign workers.
- By a margin of 52 percent to 24 percent, respondents favored requiring all businesses to use the E-Verity system to check the legal status of new hires under legislation to grant amnesty to young adult illegal immigrants who came to America as children.
- By a margin of 63 percent to 20 percent, respondents rejected granting amnesty to the young illegal immigrants if the legislation kept the status quo on chain migration, E-Verify, and current immigration levels.
Pluralities and majorities among Republicans, Democrats and independents, along with Hispanics, held those views on nearly every question.
Beck said the survey suggests that Americans do not support amnesty for so-called dreamers — the nickname for people who would benefit from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act — without those concessions.
“It’s astounding, isn’t it?” he said. “There’s hardly any support for it.”
Advocates for reduced immigration seized on the poll as evidence that congressional candidates in the fall could ride the issue.
“I think it could be a winner, especially in communities where excessive migration has occurred,” said David Cross, a spokesman for Oregonians for Immigration Reform.
Cross said he is not surprised there is a wide divide between the ruling class and the people.
“The general public is much more informed on immigration than people in Washington,” he said.
Although some might dismiss the results since NumbersUSA commissioned it, an official with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) said it is hardly an outlier.
“It is consistent with other polls,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the group. “And it’s just consistent with logic and common sense.”
Beck, the NumbersUSA president, said the survey indicates that Trump — despite the caricature in the media — has staked out a middle-of-the-road position on immigration.
The president for months has advocated legislation that would grant full amnesty for people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — as long as Congress included border security measures and reforms to the legal immigration system.
Beck said the public seems to agree and is more accommodating of some illegal immigrants than he would advocate.
“We need to be reminded that an absolute ‘no’ position is not a popular position,” he said. “I think we have to admit that, even if we don’t like it.”