Poll: Concern over Immigration at Lowest Point Yet

October 18, 2017

Despite the Trump administration’s steady focus on enforcement and security as the right approach to immigration policy, Americans’ perception of immigration as a threat is actually at an all-time low and, further, there is growing support for a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized workers, according to new public opinion data from the 2017 Chicago Council Survey.

The full report, “Bipartisan Support for Path to Citizenship for Unauthorized Immigrants,” provides key insights on how the American public views the complex issue of immigration.

Key data from the 2017 Chicago Council Survey include:

  • Only 37 percent of Americans say immigration is a critical threat, an all-time low since the question was first asked in 1998. There are, however, large differences still between Democrats (20 percent) and Republicans (61 percent) on the perceived threat of immigration, with core Trump supporters – Americans with a favorable view of President Trump - most likely to consider immigration a critical threat (80 percent).
  • Two-thirds of Americans support providing illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship, with bipartisan majorities of Democrats (77 percent) and Republicans (52 percent) backing such an approach. And fewer Americans now say that unauthorized immigrants should be required to leave their jobs and the United States (22 percent, down from 31 percent in 2013).
  • There is a split within the Republican Party on immigration between ‘Trump Republicans’ – Republicans with a very favorable view of President Trump – and other Republicans. Trump Republicans are more likely to support deportations (46 percent), while non-Trump Republicans are closer to overall public opinion with 62 percent in in favor of citizenship. Trump Republicans are also more likely to name immigrants and refugees as a critical threat (79 percent); non-Trump Republicans are less likely to do so (42 percent).

For the complete report, including graphics, please click here


The analysis in this report is based on data conducted by GfK Custom Research using their large-scale, nationwide online research panel between June 27 and July 19, 2017 among a weighted national probability sample of 2,020 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ±2.4 percentage points.

The 2017 Chicago Council Survey was made possible by the generous support of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Charles Koch Institute, the Korea Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and the personal support of Lester Crown and the Crown Family.