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Republicans and Democrats in Different Worlds on Immigration

RESEARCH Public Opinion Survey by Craig Kafura and Bettina Hammer
People's shadows projected on a large American flag
Reuters

Republicans see immigration as a critical threat to the country, say restricting immigration makes the US safer, and support using US troops to stop migrants from crossing into the United States. Democrats, on the other hand, do not consider immigration a critical threat, and their views on policy actions substantially and consistently differ from Republicans.

Introduction

Republicans see immigration as a critical threat to the country, say restricting immigration makes the US safer, and support using US troops to stop migrants from crossing into the United States. Democrats, on the other hand, do not consider immigration a critical threat, and their views on policy actions substantially and consistently differ from Republicans.

Key Findings

This year, Republican and Democratic leaders have argued over migrant detention facilities the Trump administration’s family separation policy, nationwide immigration enforcement raids, tightening asylum rules, and the status accorded to DREAMers. Reflecting the partisan rancor on Capitol Hill, the 2019 Chicago Council Survey finds many deep divisions between supporters of both parties over immigration. Republicans see immigration as a critical threat to the country, say restricting immigration makes the US safer, and support using US troops to stop migrants from crossing into the United States. Democrats, on the other hand, do not consider immigration a critical threat, and their views on policy actions substantially and consistently differ from Republicans. 

Key Takeaways 

Self-described Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to view immigration as a critical threat (78%, compared to 19%), to believe that restricting immigration makes the United States safer (78%, compared to 24%), and to support the use of US troops to prevent immigration at the US-Mexico border (81%, compared to 23%). 

Republicans are also far more likely than Democrats to consider strict immigration policy measures effective, like carrying out more arrests and deportations (82%, compared to 29%) and separating immigrant children from parents when they are accused of entering the US illegally (40%, compared to 10%). 

Likewise, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to view increasing border security (93%, compared to 55%) and imposing new fines on businesses that hire illegal immigrants (83%, compared to 54%) as effective policies. 

Americans are divided over legal immigration, too. Half of Republicans (47%) say legal immigration should be decreased, while a third of Democrats (36%) say it should be increased.  

 

Methodology 

The analysis in this report is based on data from the 2019 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy, a project of the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. The 2019 Chicago Council Survey was conducted June 7-20, 2019 by IPSOS using their large-scale nationwide online research panel, KnowledgePanel, among a weighted national sample of 2,059 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is ±2.3, including a design effect of 1.1607. The margin of error is higher for partisan subgroups or for partial-sample items. 

Partisan identification is based on respondents’ answer to a standard partisan self identification question: “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?”