Americans Overwhelmingly Favor End to Chain Migration, Poll Says
Survey commissioned by NumbersUSA finds that likely midterm voters support linking change to any DACA deal
A new poll has found that Americans overwhelmingly favor curtailing “chain migration” — and requiring employers to use the E-Verify system as part of any amnesty deal for so-called dreamers.
The survey, commissioned by NumbersUSA and conducted by Pulse Opinion Research just before Christmas, had a 3 percent margin of error.
Some 57 percent of likely midterm voters favored ending the ability of new citizens to sponsor extended family members for immigration if Congress offers a path to citizenship for young adult illegal immigrants. Some 32 percent said they support continued chain migration.
By a margin of 57 percent to 23 percent, respondents also said a bill granting legal status to young adult illegal immigrants should include a provision requiring employers to use the E-Verify system to confirm the legal status of workers.
"In representing these majority opinions of the voters, [President Donald] Trump has catapulted them for the first time into the bright light of the mass media where they may seem to some to be novel," NumbersUSA President Roy Beck wrote. "But the opinions have been there for some time. Although under-reported, these opinions were surely an important part of Trump's surprising electoral triumph in 2016."
Congress is right now mulling whether to grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants whose parents brought them to this country as children. The issue gained new urgency in September when Trump announced he was winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created by then-President Barack Obama by executive action.
"We're a nonpartisan organization, but it's something of a way of having the administration's back."
The program will expire in March.
Democrats and some Republicans have pushed for passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would grant legal status to some two million illegal immigrants. But Trump has demanded restricting chain migration to spouses and minor children, eliminating the diversity visa lottery, and other reforms.
Chris Chmielenski, director of content and activism at NumbersUSA, said there has been a concerted effort in the mainstream media in recent weeks to discredit tightening rules on chain migration. But he said the advocacy organization's survey suggests the public remains largely supportive.
"That's exactly why we're trying to push the poll out," he said. "We're a nonpartisan organization, but it's something of a way of having the administration's back."
Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the poll results indicate that measures the Trump administration advocates are not nearly as controversial as the media often portray them.
"Not only aren't they controversial, they make common sense to people," he said.
Mehlman said that dating back to an immigration commission in the 1990s headed by former Democratic Rep. Barbara Jordan of Texas, Democratic leaders at various times have endorsed the measures Trump now wants. That includes provisions included in a mass amnesty bill supported in 2013 by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
"If you go down the list, there's nothing the Democratic leadership, and most notably Chuck Schumer, haven't already agreed to," he said.
The poll described the potential amnesty beneficiaries as "young adult illegal immigrants" and did not explicitly identify them as people brought to America as children. But Chmielenski said his organization got similar results in polling in 10 states last summer when it used more sympathetic language to describe the dreamers.
The NumbersUSA poll indicated widespread support for other measures not specifically tied to the DACA question:
- Some 60 percent of respondents said legal immigration should be 500,000 or less, while only 27 percent favored keeping or increasing the current annual total of one million. Notably, 22 percent indicated that number should be zero.
- By 60 percent to 29 percent, respondents also supported eliminating the diversity visa lottery program, which awards about 50,000 green cards each year. The immigrants are chosen randomly from millions of applicants from countries around the world that historically have sent small numbers of people to the United States.