Where Americans Stand on Immigration: A Hidden Common Ground Report
August 13, 2020
“Where Americans Stand on Immigration,” a Hidden Common Ground report based on a national survey of American adults from Public Agenda/USA TODAY/Ipsos, reveals several important areas of agreement across the political spectrum on immigration and it finds a more nuanced picture of public views than is commonly thought to be the case. It also uncovers a distinct correlation between knowledge about immigration and support for more welcoming immigration policies. Findings are from a nationally representative survey of 1,054 adult Americans 18 years and older fielded by Ipsos May 15-24, 2020.
In addition to broad support for citizenship for children brought to this country illegally, Americans across the political spectrum also believe in quick and fair processing for people who enter the U.S. illegally, enforcing border security and welcoming immigrants who are skilled, financially secure or escaping war.
Seventy-seven percent of Americans across political parties say it is important to create a path to citizenship for people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Eighty-three percent believe it is important that those who cross the border illegally are processed fairly and quickly and 85% believe families and individuals who cross the border illegally should be treated humanely.
One of the most striking revelations of the Hidden Common Ground survey on immigration is how little Americans understand about immigration and how that lack of knowledge correlates with views on immigration policies.
Americans who answer more factual questions about immigration correctly tend to favor more welcoming policies regarding both documented and undocumented immigration. For example, Only 46% of people who got none of the questions right say that immigrants are important to the economy, while 99% of those who got all the questions right say immigrants are important to the economy.
This same pattern was seen across all questions in the survey. When asked about preventing illegal immigration by enforcing border security more strongly, 79% of those who got zero questions correct think this is important, while only 48% of those who got all three questions correct think it is important.