Republicans and Democrats differ on the most pressing priorities for the country’s immigration system. Republicans place particular emphasis on border security and deportation of immigrants who are illegally in the country, while Democrats place greater emphasis on pathways to legal status for those who have entered the country illegally. country – especially those who entered as children, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Yet there are areas of overlap between Republicans and Democrats, and there are considerable ideological differences in immigration goals within each partisan coalition, with conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats expressing more intense views than either. others in their parties.
As the number of people apprehended for illegally crossing the southern border reached record annual levels, about three-quarters of Americans (73%) say increasing security along the US-Mexico border to reduce illegal crossings should be a very (44%) or somewhat (29%) goal %) important to US immigration policy. Almost all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (91%) say border security should be an important goal, while a small majority of Democrats and Democratic-leanings (59%) say the same, according to the survey conducted on August 1 of 7,647 American adults. at 14.
The Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand the public’s policy priorities and goals for the US immigration system. For this analysis, we surveyed 7,647 adults from August 1-14, 2022. The survey was conducted primarily on the Center’s nationally representative US Trends Panel, with an oversample of Hispanic adults from Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel.
Respondents for both panels are recruited by random national sampling of residential addresses. In this way, almost all American adults have a chance of being selected. The survey is weighted to be representative of the US adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education and other categories. See the Methodology section for more details. Learn more about the ATP methodology.
Here are the questions used for the report, along with the answers, and its methodology.
The majority of Americans also say that welcoming civilian refugees from countries where people are trying to escape violence and war (72%) and allowing immigrants who have arrived illegally in the country as they were children to stay in the United States and seek legal status (72%) should be important goals for the immigration system. Each of these priorities garners more support from Democrats than Republicans.
About two-thirds of the public (66%) want the immigration system to make it easier to sponsor family members of U.S. citizens and legal residents to immigrate to the United States, while six in ten say they establish a average for most immigrants currently illegally residing in the country should be an important goal of immigration policy. A similar proportion (57%) say increasing deportations of immigrants currently in the country illegally should be a very or somewhat important goal of US immigration policy.
Wide partisan and ideological differences over immigration policy
For each policy questioned in the survey, there are considerable partisan differences in perceived importance. Still, for many policies included in the survey, majorities from both parties say that should be at least a somewhat important goal.
About nine in ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (91%) consider increasing security along the U.S.-Mexico border an important goal, including 72% who say it should be a goal very important goal.
While a majority of Democrats and Democrats (59%) say border security should be at least somewhat important, only 22% see it as very important – 50 percentage points less than the share of Republicans who say that.
About eight in ten Republicans (79%) say the increase in deportations of immigrants currently in the country illegally is significant, with nearly half (49%) calling it very important. By comparison, 39% of Democrats consider the increase in evictions very or somewhat important, including only 12% who consider it very important.
Democrats are more likely than Republicans (80% vs. 37%) to say that establishing a way for most immigrants currently in the country illegally to legally stay in the United States is an important goal for the US system. country’s immigration. About four in ten Democrats (38%) view this as a very important goal, against 10% of Republicans.
Majorities in both parties say welcoming refugees from countries where people are fleeing war and violence is an important goal. Nevertheless, more Democrats than Republicans consider it important (85% versus 58%). About four in ten Democrats (41%) say welcoming refugees is very important, while only 13% of Republicans say the same.
Conservative Republicans are the most likely to express strong support for more restrictive immigration goals, such as increased border security and increased deportations, even compared to other members of their party. Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, are the least supportive of these restrictive goals while being the most supportive of establishing a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants in the country.
About eight in ten conservative Republicans (82%) say increased border security should be a very important goal of US immigration policy; about half of GOP moderates and liberals (54%) say the same. Similarly, about six in ten conservative Republicans (58%) say increasing deportations of immigrants currently in the country illegally should be a very important goal, compared to about a third of moderate and liberal Republicans (34%). (Conservative Republicans make up about six in 10 of those who identify with or lean toward the GOP.)
Among Democrats, Conservatives and Moderates are more likely than Liberals to say that more restrictive goals are very or somewhat important to US immigration policy. Seven in ten conservative and moderate Democrats say increasing border security should be a very or somewhat important goal, compared to 44% of liberal Democrats. Conservative and moderate Democrats are also twice as likely as liberal Democrats (50% versus 25%) to say increasing evictions should be an important goal.
Liberal Democrats are most in favor of creating a way for most undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally: 85% say it should be an important goal, including 44% who think it should be very important. Three-quarters of conservative and moderate Democrats see it as an important goal, including 32% who see it as a very important. Among Republicans, half of moderates and liberals say the path to legal status should be an important goal, while only about three in ten conservatives (28%) say the same.
Modest shifts in views on US immigration policy
Many of the public’s views on the goals of immigration policy have remained largely stable over the past few years. For example, opinions on welcoming refugees are about the same as in 2019, and opinions on allowing immigrants who arrived illegally in the United States as children to apply for legal status. are largely unchanged from 2016. There was a slight increase in the share of Americans who say increasing deportations of immigrants here illegally should be a very or somewhat important goal (57% today compared to 54% in 2019).
There was a 5 percentage point increase in the public saying that increasing security along the US-Mexico border to reduce illegal crossings should be an important goal (73% today versus 68% three years ago). That increase is largely due to a 10-point increase in Democrats saying that (59% now vs. 49% then).
Support for a path to legal status for most immigrants currently in the country illegally has declined over the past three years. Today, six in ten adults say this should be an important goal, up from 67% in 2019 and similar to the proportion who said so in 2016 (62%). The drop reflects a decrease among Republicans — especially conservative Republicans. In 2019, about half of Republicans (48%) said this should be an important goal; today, only 37% say the same.
Note: Here are the questions used for the report, along with the answers and its methodology.
Andy Cerda is a policy research assistant at the Pew Research Center.