As President Barack Obama considers sidestepping Congress to loosen U.S. immigration policy, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Americans are deeply worried that illegal immigration is threatening the nation’s culture and economy.
Seventy percent of Americans–including 86 percent of Republicans–believe undocumented immigrants threaten traditional U.S. beliefs and customs, according to the poll.
The findings suggest immigration could join Obamacare–the healthcare insurance overhaul–and the economy as hot button issues that encourage more Republicans to vote in November’s congressional election.
Despite arguments from the White House and groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that legal immigration benefits business, 63 percent of people in the online survey also said immigrants place a burden on the economy.
In Denver, Reuters/Ipsos poll respondent Tom Vanderbur, 72, criticized Congress for going into summer recess after failing to pass border security measures but said he was not convinced that Obama should act unilaterally on immigration.
“I don’t think that he has a right to just make those kinds of decisions on his own,” said retiree Vanderbur, a registered Democrat in a state where another U.S. Senate seat is being hotly contested.
Vanderbur was among the 45 percent of people in the poll, carried out between July 15-22, who said the number of immigrants legally allowed to enter the country should be reduced.
Only 17 percent thought more legal immigrants should be allowed to come to the United States. Thirty-eight percent said the number should stay the same.
A separate Reuters/Ipsos online poll shows that voters see immigration as the third most important problem facing the nation. Respondents in a Gallup poll in July cited immigration as the No.1 problem, ahead of the economy.
A Republican candidate for New Hampshire state senator, Eddie Edwards, said seven out of 10 voters voice worries about immigration and refugees when he canvasses door to door.
Opposition to illegal immigration is higher in New England than in much of the rest of the country, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll of mid-July. Seventy-six percent of people in the region said undocumented immigrants threaten American beliefs and customs, compared to 70 percent nationally.