Voters support most elements of President Donald Trump’s proposal to scale back legal immigration to the United States and change the criteria by which the U.S. admits immigrants, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.
Trump last week announced support for a bill introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) that would favor worker skills over family connections and reduce legal immigration by half.
In defending the bill, White House adviser Stephen Miller cited the popularity of provisions of the bill in public opinion polling and predicted a wave of popular support for a bill that’s been long stalled in the Senate.
“Public support is so immense on this — if you just look at the polling data in many key battleground states across the country — that over time you’re going to see massive public push for this kind of legislation,” Miller said last week from the podium in the White House briefing room.
In general, more voters support most elements of the legislation than oppose them — but there are important distinctions.
Majorities back limiting the number of refugees offered permanent residency (58 percent) and establishing a “points system” that would award points based on criteria such as education, English proficiency and prospective salary in the U.S. (60 percent).
Support for some of the other provisions in the bill isn’t as strong but still exceeds opposition. Forty-eight percent of voters support reducing the number of legal immigrants by half over the next decade, compared to 39 percent who oppose that. On what Miller called “unlimited family chain migration,” 45 percent support ending the ability for U.S. citizens and permanent residents to petition to get extended family members green cards, while 39 percent oppose ending that.
As for English-language proficiency, 62 percent say it should be a factor in determining who should be allowed to immigrate legally.
"Even the more controversial provisions in this legislation receive support from a plurality of voters," said Morning Consult co-founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. "The reason for this is ostensibly that Republican support is more consolidated than Democratic opposition. For example, 73 percent of Republican voters support reducing the number of legal immigrants, compared to 57 percent of Democrats who oppose that idea."
Still, the poll shows voters continue to believe in the value of legal immigration. Nearly two-thirds of voters, 66 percent, say legal immigrants “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents” — more than three times the 20 percent who say that legal immigrants “are a burden on our country because they take our housing, health care and jobs.”
And 39 percent say greater emphasis should be placed on the job skills of an applicant for immigration, just slightly more than the 36 percent who say a greater emphasis should be placed on the applicant’s ties to family in the U.S.
The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted August 3-6. The poll surveyed 1,992 registered voters and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.