Trading the Wall for a Bridge: How Americans Really Feel About Immigration

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Grantees in this story

Recent rhetoric might lead one to believe there is a deep rift among Americans on questions of immigration policy, deportation, and the effect of immigrants on American Society. However, a wide-scale, comprehensive survey conducted by Corporation grantee, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), shows otherwise. 

Though the survey does not account for the intensity of feelings, overall, it found that the majority of Americans (62%), regardless of political affiliation, favor a path to citizenship for immigrants living here illegally, and additional 15% support permanent legal residency without the option of citizenship. In fact, only 19% of respondents favored deportation as the best course of action. This is not to say that there weren’t partisan divides. 72% of Democrats support a path to citizenship, compared to 62% or Independents and 52% of Republicans. The survey also found differences among respondents depending on age, race, religiosity and location.  However, even with the differences in policy opinions and overall attitude toward immigrants taken into account, PRRI researchers report that, “no weekly survey conducted between May and December 2015 registered more than four in ten Americans agreeing that immigrants represent a threat to American culture.”

What these results may foretell about the role of immigration in the upcoming election remains to be seen. Despite political tactics and partisan efforts to deeply divide American citizens on this issue, it turns out, the country is more in sync than it may initially appear.

For further analysis, survey methodology, and an in-depth breakdown of responses by demographic, read the full report on the Public Religion Research Institute website.