Via the Pew Research Center:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Bridget Johnson, 202-419-4372, bjohnson@pewresearch.org


Most continue to favor legal status for undocumented immigrants


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 12, 2019) – The public is broadly critical of the way that the federal government is dealing with the increased number of people seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center. When it comes to what should be done about the situation, large majorities say it is important to increase the number of judges handling asylum cases and to provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum seekers.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) say the federal government is doing a very bad (38%) or somewhat bad (27%) job dealing with the increased number of people seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border; just 33% say the government is doing a good job.

In assessing the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, the public views several goals as important. But more people give priority to addressing the backlog of asylum cases and improving conditions for asylum seekers than to making it harder – or easier – for asylum seekers to be granted legal status.

Overall, 86% say it is either very (52%) or somewhat (34%) important to increase the number of judges handling asylum cases. Nearly as many (82%) say it is important to provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum seekers once they arrive in the United States, including 52% who say this is very important.

The public also emphasizes stemming the flow of people to the border: 74% say it is at least somewhat important to reduce the number of people coming to the U.S. to seek asylum and 69% say it is important to provide more assistance to countries in places like Central America, where many asylum seekers are coming from.

Fairly similar shares of the public view as at least somewhat important the conflicting goals of making it easier (60%) or harder (53%) for asylum seekers to be granted legal status in the U.S. These views are deeply divided along partisan lines, with 77% of Republicans saying it is important to make it more difficult for asylum seekers to gain legal status and a comparable majority of Democrats (79%) saying it is important to make this process easier.

The survey also finds:

Broad public support for path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72%) say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally if certain conditions are met. This is a modest decline from 77% in March 2017, with most of the change occurring among Republicans.

Most Americans say people who are in the U.S. illegally are no more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say this. Large majorities also say undocumented immigrants mostly fill the jobs that American citizens don’t want (77%) and are as honest and hardworking as American citizens (73%).

As many agree with the Republican Party as with the Democratic Party on illegal immigration. Among the public overall, 40% say they agree with the Democratic Party’s policies on illegal immigration and 39% agree with the GOP’s positions; 19% don’t agree with either party on this issue. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to agree with their own party on illegal immigration.

The survey was conducted July 22-August 4 among 4,175 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1.9 percentage points for results based on the full sample.