Shock Poll: Americans Want Massive Cuts to Legal Immigration

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, January 22, 2018

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A Harvard-Harris poll taken in the run-up to the shutdown found Americans strongly support granting citizenship rights to illegal immigrant Dreamers. But they also back Mr. Trump’s three demands for a border wall, limits to the chain of family migration and an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Most striking of all is the public’s demand for lower overall legal immigration — a position that has little traction on Capitol Hill but one that is overwhelmingly popular across the country.

The poll found that most Americans want annual legal immigration capped at 500,000 a year or less — far lower than the current annual rate of 1.3 million.

Those findings challenge what many lawmakers say is the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that while illegal immigration is to be discouraged, high levels of legal immigration are necessary for the nation’s image and its economy.

That is one of the positions likely to be tested as Congress begins a sprint to find an immigration compromise, potentially by Feb. 8 — the deadline for spending set Monday — but definitely by March 5, which is when Dreamers could begin losing legal protections in large numbers.

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The public may see the issue differently, according to the Harvard-Harris poll of American adults, taken Jan. 17-19.

The survey asked respondents what level of overall legal immigration they would like to see.

A stunning 35 percent said the level should be fewer than 250,000 a year, while another 19 percent said it should be 250,000 to 500,000. Combined, they make up a majority looking for a cut of at least 50 percent over current annual levels. Another 18 percent said they want to see 500,000 to 1 million.

Just 19 percent of respondents said they want an increase over 1 million.

Mr. Trump hasn’t said recently what legal immigration number he wants to see, but he has been vocal on changing the way the U.S. picks immigrants. He said skills and ability to assimilate in the U.S. should be weighted over extended family ties.

The poll says voters agree by a 79 percent to 21 percent margin.

That is even bigger than the 77 percent to 23 percent margin that supports legalization for Dreamers.

More than 60 percent of voters said current border security is inadequate, and 54 percent said they support “building a combination of physical and electronic barriers across the U.S.-Mexico border.”

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[Editor’s Note: The Harvard-Harris Poll is available here.]

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