Washington, DC – A new national survey conducted by Morning Consult for the Bipartisan Policy Center finds that while Democrats and Republicans are divided on most immigration policy priorities, there is bipartisan support for economic and legal immigration legislation.
“Americans of all political persuasions agree our immigration system is broken, but we continue to see Congress and political leaders struggling to achieve change,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, BPC managing director of immigration and cross-border policy. “We wanted to see where Americans stood on these issues, and more importantly where there is opportunity for compromise. While there are strong differences on some issues, there are also less controversial areas where agreement is possible. We think that offers an opportunity for bipartisan legislative success.”
Among the partisan differences identified in the survey, Democrats consistently placed higher importance on policies providing temporary or permanent refuge, while Republicans were heavily focused on enforcement and removal of unauthorized immigrants—priorities neither side was very willing to compromise over.
However, there was moderate support across the board from Democrats, independents, and Republicans for less controversial matters such as legal immigration that supports the U.S. economy, specifically worker visas and visas for entrepreneurs. Crucially, the poll showed important policy differences between Republicans who align more with former President Donald Trump (31%) and those who align more with the party (64%). The party-aligned Republicans showed more openness to legal immigration reforms and compromise with Democrats.
The survey also found that the share of adults who say immigrants “hurt” the United States’ long-term economic recovery from COVID-19 has increased from 25% to 40% (+15%) since May of 2020, based on BPC/Morning Consult’s previous polling. Additionally, those who have heard more about the situation at the border are more likely to say immigrants hurt the United States’ long-term economic recovery (46% vs. 26%). This suggests the public’s perception of immigrants and their role in the U.S. economy is strongly correlated to how they perceive the current situation at the southwest border.
“Expanding legal immigration to support the economy and fill jobs has broad support, but current events at the border still affect overall support for immigrants,” said Brown. “If the White House hopes to garner support for legislation, addressing the current situation at the border is paramount.”
Wave 1 of the survey was conducted between April 2-6, 2021 among a sample of 2,200 adults and between April 1-5 among a sample of 1,000 Hispanic adults. Wave 2 of the survey was conducted between May 1-3, 2021 among a sample of 2,200 adults and between April 30-May 3, 2021 among a sample of 1,000 Hispanic adults. The interviews were conducted online. Results from the adult sample have a margin of error of +/- 2%, and results among Hispanic adults have a margin of error of +/-3%.