2006 December 06 Wednesday
Survey Shows Popular-Elite Gap On Immigration

While our elites are broadly supportive of high levels of immigration yet another survey, this one from the Center for Immigration Studies, shows once again that the public wants less immigration, not more.

A. Neutral Questions Prompt Strong Opinions.

In October 2006, a month before the November mid-term elections, the Center for Immigration Studies commissioned a poll of likely voters by the polling company. The findings show that when presented with hard facts about the number of immigrants (both legal and illegal) currently in America, voters made clear that there are currently too many immigrants crossing our borders. In addition, the public wants the U.S. government to intensify its efforts to enforce current immigration laws (with the intent of causing illegals to go home over time) and rejected any increase in legal immigration levels. The views espoused by most Americans were those encapsulated by the bill passed earlier this year by Republicans in the United States House of Representatives. This suggests that the losses House Republicans sustained this election season are not linked to their stance on immigration, which was actually quite popular with voters.

B. When Presented with the Facts, Voters Say they Want Less, Not More, Immigration.

When given details about the number of immigrants (both legal and illegal) already in America and the number entering each year, 68 percent of likely voters thought the number of immigrants (regardless of legal status) crossing our borders was "too high," while just 21 percent said it was "about right," and 2 percent believed it was "too low." It didn’t take fancy turns of phrase or inflated figures to lead them to this conclusion. This would seem to contradict those who argue that the only concern of voters with respect to immigration is illegality, rather than the sheer number of immigrants in the country.

C. Data Contradict Other Polls Showing Support for Legalization.

Several advocacy groups and even some media outlets have released polls showing support for legalizing current illegals. However, those polls often gave voters a very limited choice between large scale deportations or earned legalization. This survey also finds some support for earned legalization. However, when given the third choice of across-the-board enforcement with the goal of causing illegals to go home on their own (which is the basis of the bill passed by the U.S. House), the public strongly favored this "attrition strategy" over mass deportations or earned legalizations.

D. Very Little Support for Increasing Legal Immigration.

There appears to be minimal support for the kind of large increase in legal immigration found in the bill passed recently by the U.S. Senate (S2611). Across the political spectrum voters felt legal immigration levels were either too high or just right. When asked specifically about legal immigration, only 8 percent said it was too low.

In fact, 70 percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported doubling legal immigration, compared to just 21 percent who said they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate (a warning to Senators who support S2611 which would just that). And the intensity of opposition was overwhelming, with 48 percent saying they would be much less likely to vote for a candidate that wants to double immigration, compared to only 7 percent who said they would be much more likely to vote for such a candidate.

E. Immigration Plan Passed by the U.S. House by Far the Favorite.

Voters generally rejected the extremes of mass deportations or legalization of illegals. When asked to evaluate several proposed immigration policies, Americans rallied most forcefully around the House of Representatives plan. The House plan, which increases enforcement with the intent of causing illegals to go home, was the most popular when tested alone and when stacked up against other plans. Futhermore, when given three simple choices, across the board enforcement was the most popular: with 44 percent favoring the House’s attrition approach, 31 percent supporting an earned legalization, and just 20 percent in favor of large scale deportations. Enforcement without an earned legalization or an increase in legal immigration is clearly the public’s choice. No matter how the questions were asked, the results were virtually the same.

F. Voters Skeptical of the Need for Unskilled Immigrant Labor.

When presented with two competing views regarding the need for immigrants to supplement the low-wage, low-skill workforce, more than 70 percent of voters agreed that there were, "plenty of Americans to do low-wage jobs that require relatively little education, employers just need to pay higher wages and treat workers better to attract Americans." Less than one-third that many (21 percent) said the country needed immigrants because there are not enough Americans to do such jobs.

G. Lax Enforcement Partly to Blame for Illegal Immigration.

Nearly three-out-of-four voters said that the United States had done too little to enforce immigration laws. And three-quarters also agreed that the reason we have so many illegals in this country is that past enforcement efforts have before "grossly inadequate." Only 14 percent felt the government has made a "real effort" to enforce our laws and the reason we have so much illegal immigration is that we are not allowing in enough immigrants legally. This is a key argument posited by those who argue in favor of increased legal immigration and is a central tenet of the Senate plan.

H. Republican Most Strongly in Favor of Enforcement, but Independents and Many Democrats also Oppose Legalization.

While there were members of all three political persuasions (e.g. Republican, Democrat, and Independent) on both sides of the issue, overall Republicans were the most likely to believe that immigration was too high, and were most supportive of an enforcement approach. However, a majority of Democratic voters also felt overall immigration was too high and preferred either large scale deportations or an attrition strategy over earned legalization. There was little supporting for increasing legal immigration among adherents of any party.

I. Traditionally Democratic Voters – Including Minorities and Low-Wage, Low-Skill Workers – Split from Party on Many Aspects of Immigration.

Voters whose life and livelihoods are perhaps most apt to be directly affected by the presence of immigrants – those who are potentially being passed over for jobs in favor of immigrants who will accept lower wages and fewer benefits – split from their traditional Democratic roots and sided with Republicans. They were much more likely to believe the current number of immigrants in the country was too high and more favorable towards enforcement policies – including those that simply rounded up illegals and deported them.

The lower classes know they are most heavily shafted by immigration because the low skilled immigrants drive down their wages and worsen their working condtions. Plus, the immigrants increase crime in low income neighborhoods.

Will Jorge W. Bush and the Democrats pass a huge immigration amnesty in 2007? That is what they want to do. Will the public get mad enough to stop them?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 December 06 11:16 PM  Immigration Elites Versus Masses

John S Bolton said at December 7, 2006 3:02 AM:

It's hard to believe that additional years of education teach people that supply and demand needn't apply if one is about to be called xenophobic
or that menials are not the most replaceable of all employees, when one has a sudden fear of being called provincial and not cosmopolitan
or that we don't owe loyalty to fellow citizens, over foreigners with parasitical ways, when one is about to be called selfish, and gasp, patriotic
For those and other reasons, it seems more plausible that such elites know that immigrants are not that which can do no wrong,
but such elites want the power that can come from increasing conflict

Half Sigma said at December 7, 2006 9:05 AM:

Politicians will only listen to the people when the people demonstrate that they care enough about an issue to change their vote on account of it. This hasn't happened yet with immigration. Maybe it will in a future election.

Jones T Jones said at December 7, 2006 12:08 PM:

There's one simple way to make the immigration issue felt on a national level - run a 3rd party "immigration restriction" candidate for president. The issue has sufficient support in all 50 states to make ballot access problems unlikely. While this candidate will almost certainly lose, it will thrust the issue into the mainstream, as Ross Perot's candidacy did for the budget deficit.

If certain people fear running a 3rd party for president because of who it will swing the election to, then they don't really care enough about the problem to force action. Whining on the sidelines yet supporting the current effective two party duopoly on the issue is getting people nowhere. House Republicans may have had the popular approach, but it is ineffective, and now even less so as all the levers of power are basically in support of "amnesty" and opposed to a "real" border fence.

Those who support increased immigration restrictions have nothing to lose by running a 3rd party candidate for president. Absolutely nothing.

Rick Darby said at December 7, 2006 12:21 PM:

Most Americans don't want increased immigration. For many of them, though, it seems to be still largely a theoretical issue, or they wouldn't have voted in Democratic majorities, regardless of their disillusionment with Bush and his party. It isn't enough just to tell pollsters of their feelings, or even write their congressional representatives. At this point, they need an absolute urgency, a willingness to step outside the realm of debate and show their teeth. I don't sense that kind of commitment from most of those who profess to be concerned.

Unfortunately, to light the fuse might take the passage of a disastrous immigration "reform" bill, and a few years for its consequences to work themselves out — at which point it will be too late because the demographic balance will have already shifted dramatically in favor of migrants and their extended kin.

The only grounds for optimism I can see is that immigration is turning more and more into an economic issue, and the idea that open borders bring financial benefits for anyone except the invaders and big business is increasingly challenged. Immigration is now seen by more citizens as a kind of "internal outsourcing" whereby business, instead of sending its work to Third World countries, finds it even more profitable simply to bring the Third World here, with the additional advantage that it's now possible to "outsource" the kinds of table-wiping, checkout-counter jobs that formerly couldn't be exported. It's a sad commentary on what the country has sunk to that you can't get people hopping mad about a president's treasonous refusal to enforce laws he doesn't like, and they'll only get into gear when they think their own economic well being is on the line. But if Americans have to fear for their jobs and houses to assert themselves, that's coming soon.

Borat said at December 7, 2006 7:00 PM:

seems in Canada and parts of America (in syndication they want to make Islamic/North American relations humerous):


Bob Badour said at December 8, 2006 10:25 AM:

It's too bad Little Mosque on the Prairie is on CBC. I live someplace too remote to tune in our national broadcaster. I only get CTV.

The show sounds like it will be very funny.

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