Americans have Quietly Shifted on Immigration and Now Want Levels Reduced

Image Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Public Domain

Despite economic issues like inflation and job insecurity dominating as the second half of the Biden presidency begins, increasing dissatisfaction with the border crisis could make immigration as large of an issue as it was in 2015.

The border remains unsecured, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) noting over 156,000 “migrant encounters” with illegals entering the U.S. this January alone, up from 78,414 in January 2021 when Biden took office.   

The Biden Administration’s policies have been decidedly anti-citizen, and have instead interfered with ICE’s ability to deport illegals, undercut the wages of U.S. workers, expanded the labor pool at the expense of existing citizens, and released dangerous individuals into American cities.

At his State of the Union Address, Biden nagged Congress about creating a pathway to citizenship for illegals, something most Americans do not support. Biden also announced plans to increase the number of migrants allowed to enter the U.S. on work visas to 30,000 migrants a month, a position in direct conflict with what Americans say they want in polls. 

Gallup polling shows a significant rise in dissatisfaction with immigration in the past two years, and the bulk of those who are dissatisfied say they want immigration curbed. Two-thirds (63%) of Americans are currently dissatisfied with immigration, the highest share in over a decade.   

The bulk of the dissatisfaction is driven by Americans who want the levels of immigration decreased, not those who want to want to expand immigration. According to Gallup, 40% of Americans are both dissatisfied with immigration and want the levels reduced. Far fewer are dissatisfied and want immigration levels increased.  Among those who are dissatisfied, a full 64% (which is equivalent to approximately 40% of Americans) want less immigration into the U.S., while just 8% want more, and 15% aren’t sure. 

The share of Americans who want immigration decreased has more than doubled in just two years from 19% in early 2021 to 40% today.  

As is to be expected, there is a strong partisan lean among those who are dissatisfied and want immigration decreased, with 71% of Republicans saying they’re dissatisfied and want immigration levels decreased, up from 40% in 2021. Republicans’ satisfaction with immigration is now the lowest on record according to Gallup survey data, so low that more Republicans are now satisfied with the economy and the amount of federal taxes they pay than with immigration. 

There has also been a sharp spike in the share of Democrats who are concerned with the levels of immigration into the United States. The share of Democrats who say immigration should be reduced has skyrocketed to nearly a fifth of Democrats (19%), from just 2% when Biden took office.   

Independent voters too, are increasingly concerned with the levels of immigration into the U.S., with 36% saying immigration levels should be curbed, up from 19% only two years ago.   

The immigration issue has a partisan divide, but an increasing share of Independents and even Democrats now say the levels of immigration into the United States are too high and openly want levels reduced, placing them at odds with the Biden Administration’s approach. Research conducted by Americans for Limited Government Foundation also shows younger Americans strongly support the rule of law when it comes to addressing the border crisis.  

Our research found young people have a rules-based approach to immigration. Eight in ten Zoomers say immigrants must follow the proper channels to become citizens even if the rules are hard.  Fifty-eight percent of Zoomers say it doesn’t matter if illegal immigrants are causing problems or not, if they came here illegally, they need to leave. Over two-thirds of young Whites (68) and half of young Blacks (52%) agree that immigrants who do not follow the law should leave the country. Close to 40% of young Hispanics agree.  

Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government Foundation said, “Americans are finally cracking under the weight of illegal immigration, and many have had enough. The Biden Administration’s inaction over the last two years is making the case for immigration policy that puts citizens first better than anything else could.” 

The modern left’s approach to immigration has been to fold under political pressure instead of standing up for American citizens. Biden continues to allow a dangerous Department of Labor (DOL) loophole to remain that allows corporations to undercut Americans’ wages by hiring H-2B visa workers and paying them poverty-level wages. Biden’s protection of sanctuary cities interferes with law enforcement’s ability to protect citizens and deport criminals. On top of that, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates illegals in the U.S. have cost taxpayers nearly $150 billion dollars so far. 

Public sentiment is souring on 21st century immigration policy and far more Americans want immigration levels decreased than increased now. With economic issues dominating voters’ minds, the immigration issue may be a sleeping giant. Eventually, Americans are going to demand the political class adopt citizens-first immigration policy instead of bowing to corporate and foreign interests. 

Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst with Americans for Limited Government Research Foundation.

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