A new Pew Research Center poll finds that the percentage of Americans who see immigrants as a “burden” is on the rise, while the percentage who think immigrants strengthen the country is on the decline.
The survey of 2,002 adults released Thursday found that the percentage of Americans who view immigrants as “a burden because they take jobs, housing and health care” has increased from 35 percent two years ago to 41 percent this year.
Meanwhile those who say immigrants strengthen the country has declined from 57 percent last year to 51 percent.
“There are wide partisan differences in views of immigrants’ overall impact on the country today. Majorities of Democrats (62%) and independents (57%) say that immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents,” Pew reports. “By contrast, just 27% of Republicans see immigrants, on balance, as making positive contributions to the country; far more (63%) say that immigrants are a burden because they take jobs, housing and health care.”
Pew notes that the past year has seen Republican negativity on the issue increase — last year 42 percent of Republicans said immigrants are a strength compared to 27 percent in this poll.
While the views of immigrants’ strengths has declined, Pew found that a majority of Americans (72 percent) still say illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements should have to pay to stay legally in the U.S.
On legal immigration, a plurality of 39 percent say levels should stay the same but more (31 percent) say levels should be decreased compared to increased (24%).
Broken down by party, Pew notes, “Twice as many Republicans think legal immigration should be decreased as increased (42% vs. 21%) while about one-third (34%) want to keep it about the same. Among Democrats, a similar share wants a decrease in legal immigration (27%) as an increase (24%), while a 43% plurality says it should stay the same. Independents’ views are similar to those of Democrats. Pew also found President Obama faring poorly when it comes to how Americans see his handling of the issue of immigration, with just 37 percent saying they approve.”
“Obama gets some of his lowest issue approval ratings for his handling of the nation’s immigration policy,” Pew reports. “About four-in-ten (37%) approve of the way he is handling this policy, while 56% disapprove. Whites disapprove of Obama’s performance on this issue by more than two-to-one (65% to 29%). Hispanics are divided (48% disapprove, 44% approve), while 66% of blacks of approve of Obama’s handling of immigration policy.
The poll was conducted from May 12 – 18 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.