Have 9/11, the experience of mass immigration, and restrictionist advocacy shaken up public opinion on immigration? Gallup recently polled 1,975 Americans. As you can see in the chart above, anti-immigration sentiment shot up right after 9/11: the percent favoring less immigration went up almost 20 points. Well, you can see that 100% of that gain has been lost.
And the percent of idiots wanting more immigration increased from 8% in 2002 to 18% now.
And notice how 9/11 was not the high point of anti-immigration sentiment. As the report indicates: "In the mid-1990s, roughly two in three Americans wanted to see less immigration during a backlash against immigrants symbolized by California's Proposition 187, which denied government benefits to illegal immigrants." That number is down TWENTY-SIX points. I don't know about you, but I'm not smiling.
I imagine that many who want more people coming in are immigrants who hope to bring cousin Jesus over. (28% of Hispanics want more immigration. In an earlier analysis of mine using GSS data, the number is much higher if they are asked about increasing Hispanic immigration).
Not very many Americans now think that the issue of illegals is serious either: "... just 27% of Americans said illegal immigration would be an extremely important issue to their vote for president this year, ranking it dead last of eight issues tested." (The rest of the numbers I discuss are not in the graph).
More people now think that immigrants take low-paying jobs that Americans don't want--a stunning 79%--than they did two years ago (74%).
Whites and Hispanics look at the costs of immigration very differently: only 30% of Hispanics think immigrants cost taxpayers too much, compared to 71% of whites.
And if you assume that moderates are just like conservatives on immigration, you're wrong. Twice as many want immigration increased (22% vs. 12%). It is clear now (and always was) that McCain is not going to win over Hispanic voters, and I suspect that moderates at the end of the day don't give a crap about the issue, so if McCain wants votes, he needs to flip-flop right on this issue.
It looks to me like the anti-illegal fervor we've witnessed in the past couple years might not be some kind of widespread movement, but is around the 30% of Americans (mostly white and a small number of blacks, I'm sure) who say that, on the whole, immigration is a bad thing.
If restrictionists are going to win on this issue, they have their work cut out for them.
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