A new Gallup poll shows that Americans’ satisfaction with the level of immigration into the United States has fallen to its lowest point in a decade.
About 63% of the respondents said they were dissatisfied with immigration. The poll was conducted January 2-22 as part of an annual poll done since 2001 on many issues.
In January 2022, overall satisfaction with immigration stood at 34%. This past January, the number dropped to 28%. In 23 years of polling, the lowest satisfaction percentage, 23%, was recorded in 2007; the highest was 41% in 2018.
“We know since COVID, and with everything happening at the border, [migrant] numbers have increased and that’s just reflected in people concerned about illegal immigration, people's satisfaction with the level of immigration,” Gallup’s director of United States social research, Lydia Saad, told VOA.
The desire for less immigration increased across party lines, but the sentiment remained highest among Republicans.
According to Gallup, in 2021, 40% of Republicans said they believed immigration levels were too high. The number increased to 69% in 2022 and was 71% in the latest poll, the highest recorded for Republicans.
Dissatisfaction that immigration is too high also rose among Democrats, from 2% in 2021 to 11% in 2022 to 19% in January; among independents, the figure rose from 19% in 2021 to 32% in 2022 to 35% in January.
Older adults also increasingly want less immigration, according to the latest study. About 55% of Americans ages 55 and older surveyed said they wanted immigration levels to drop. That number was 21% in 2021, according to the poll.
"If you go back to the party trend, dissatisfaction has increased among all party groups since 2021," said Saad. "The increase in older Americans’ concern is exclusively among independents and Democrats because Republicans were already highly concerned.”
The survey question did not specify legal or illegal immigration, Saad said.
“It just asked people to say if they’re satisfied or dissatisfied with the level of immigration into the country today,” she said.
However, in a March 2022 Gallup survey, 41% of Americans reported they were worried “a great deal” about illegal immigration to the United States. That was the same percentage found in 2021, yet one of the highest results among Gallup readings taken over the last decade.
Despite the rising concern about immigration, it is not a top priority for respondents, the January poll found. Other issues — such as women’s rights, the environment, race relations, guns and medical care — ranked higher than immigration.
According to Gallup, Americans' satisfaction with immigration has fluctuated under different administrations. Immigration satisfaction hit its lowest level at the end of former President George W. Bush's administration, in the years after 9/11.
Likely an issue during 2024 races
Immigration has been a hot topic in the last two decades and is likely to be a campaign topic in 2024.
Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show that 874,449 migrants have been encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border since the start of fiscal 2023 on October 1, 2022.
Of those, 264,963 were immediately removed under Title 42, the measure that allows for the immediate expulsion of migrants during public health emergencies.
Some of those migrants have tried to cross the border multiple times.
In fiscal 2022, there were an estimated 2.3 million encounters with migrants, CBP data show. More than 1 million migrants were immediately expelled under Title 42 and 1.3 million were processed under Title 8, which means they were allowed to seek asylum in the U.S. or placed under expedited removal proceedings and sent back to Mexico or their home countries.
In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said, “America’s border problems won’t be fixed until Congress acts,” adding that immigration reform is a bipartisan issue.
The last time Congress agreed to significant immigration legislation was in 1996.