Americans’ Satisfaction With U.S. Immigration At Lowest Point In Decade


Americans are less satisfied with the level of immigration into the U.S. than they have been at any point since 2012, according to a new Gallup poll, as the crisis at the border that’s caused widespread controversy for the Biden Administration is now leading even an increased number of Democrats to want immigration to be curbed.

Key Facts

The poll, conducted January 2-22 among 1,011 U.S. adults, found only 28% of Americans are very or somewhat satisfied with the level of immigration into the U.S., while 63% are dissatisfied.

That’s down from 39% in 2021 and 34% in 2022, and marks the lowest satisfaction Americans have had with immigration levels since 2012 (also 28%).

It’s still higher than satisfaction was in 2006, 2007 and 2008, however, when 27%, 24% and 23% of Americans were fine with the country’s immigration levels, respectively.

Out of those who are dissatisfied, most want there to be less immigration: 40% of all respondents want immigration levels to decrease, versus 8% who want more immigration and 15% who are dissatisfied with the immigration level, but also want it to remain the same.

Democrats are helping to drive the increase in dissatisfaction, with 19% saying they’re dissatisfied and want less immigration—up from 11% last year and only 2% in 2021—though 40% still say they’re satisfied with current immigration levels.

The share of Independents who want less immigration went up from 32% in 2022 to 36% now, while among Republicans 71% want immigration levels decreased, which is only up from 69% last year but also marks a record high for the party.

Surprising Fact

While Democrats’ increasingly favor less immigration into the U.S., they’re still more open to it than in the past. The share of Democrats who were dissatisfied and wanted less immigration into the U.S. ranged between 20% and 46% between 2001 and 2016. It then plummeted to 8% in January 2017, when President Donald Trump took office after taking aim at immigrants during his campaign and in the early days of his presidency.

Key Background

Immigration has been one of the key issues that the Biden administration has had to deal with so far, as U.S. Customs and Border Protection data shows the number of migrants that have been apprehended or expelled at the southern border went from 977,509 in 2019 to 1.7 million in 2021 and 2.4 million in 2022. Republican states have repeatedly sued in an effort to block the White House’s policies and stymie immigration, and some GOP governors have started controversially sending migrants into Democratic-led cities and states. While the Biden Administration has taken steps to expand some legal immigration methods, like increasing the cap on refugee admissions, it has struggled with curbing the influx of migrants arriving from the U.S.-Mexico border. The White House introduced new immigration policies in January that crack down on unlawful border crossings while still allowing 30,000 migrants from certain countries to enter legally each month through a new parole program, with President Joe Biden warning migrants in a speech to “not just show up at the border” and apply from their home countries instead. A coalition of GOP-led states still filed a lawsuit in an effort to block that new program, however, claiming the Biden Administration exceeded its authority by imposing it.

What To Watch For

Biden has called on Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform, though lawmakers have struggled to come up with legislation thus far that stands a chance of passing both the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate. The Brookings Institution notes that Congress has not passed any significant immigration legislation since 1996. The Biden Administration is also likely to soon end a Trump-era policy known as Title 42 that’s allowed the administration to turn away migrants at the border due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as the White House is set to end the public health emergency for the pandemic in May. Critics have warned that lifting the policy could lead to a new influx of border crossings, without new action by Congress to deal with the immigration crisis.

Further Reading

Americans Showing Increased Concern About Immigration (Gallup)

Key facts about U.S. immigration policies and Biden’s proposed changes (Pew Research Center)

20 GOP-led states ask federal judge to halt migrant sponsorship program (CBS News)

Biden State of the Union 2023: Challenge Congress to act on immigration (Brookings Institution)