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Holding Steady: Public Opinion on Immigration

RESEARCH Public Opinion Survey by Dina Smeltz, Sara McElmurry, and Craig Kafura
People wait in line at the US-Mexico border.
Reuters

This survey showed that opinion was split on whether these unaccompanied minors should be treated as refugees or undocumented immigrants.

Introduction

The arrival of a "surge" of Central American minors on the US-Mexico border generated intense media coverage as authorities apprehended more than 68,000 children between October 2013 and September 2014, double the number from the previous year.

Key findings

Public opinion polls conducted in July, at the height of the influx, showed that much of the public was following the issue and opinion was split on whether these unaccompanied minors should be treated as refugees or undocumented immigrants. But Chicago Council Surveys conducted both before (May) and after (October) the surge show little effect on a twenty-year-long trend of decreasing public concern over immigration.

About the Authors
Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
Headshot for Dina Smeltz
Dina Smeltz, a polling expert, has more than 25 years experience designing and fielding international social and political surveys. Prior to joining the Council to lead its annual survey of American attitudes on US foreign policy, she served in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the US State Department's Office of Research from 1992 to 2001.
Headshot for Dina Smeltz
Nonresident Fellow, Immigration
Council expert Sara McElmurry
Sara McElmurry is a nonresident fellow at the Council, where she has contributed to a portfolio of research and analysis focused on immigration to the Midwest since 2014. She is also an award-winning communications strategist, having built media advocacy and multicultural outreach platforms for a number of national and local nonprofit organizations focused on immigration, education, housing, and health policy.
Council expert Sara McElmurry
Assistant Director, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
Council expert Craig Kafura
Craig Kafura is the assistant director for public opinion and foreign policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, and a Pacific Forum Young Leader. At the Council, he coordinates work on public opinion and foreign policy and is a regular contributor to the public opinion and foreign policy blog Running Numbers.
Council expert Craig Kafura