Pew Explores Political Immigration Divide

Immigration Divided by Election Candidates

Democrats and Republicans appear to remain miles apart in their views around the impact of immigration on the United States. According to the Pew Research Center’s Campaign Exposes Fissures Over Issues, Values and How Life Has Changed in the U.S. report, Democrats are still more likely than Republicans to hold favorable views on issues surrounding immigration.

According to the report, which was published March 31, Democratic and Democratic-leading registered voters say immigrants in the country today do more to strengthen the nation than to burden it– by a 78 percent to 17 percent margin. Among respondents who self-identify as Republican or Republican-leaning, 56 percent told pollsters immigrants contribute to the country through their talents and hard work. Thirty-two percent of respondents said immigrants hurt the country by taking jobs from citizens.

The study further breaks down views on immigration based on support of the various presidential candidates. Not surprisingly, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters view immigration favorably by wide margins.  Seventy-eight percent of those identifying as Clinton supporters and 82 percent of Sanders supporters see immigrants as a foundational strength to the United States.

The field among GOP presidential candidate supporters much less surprisingly shows greater contrast. Donald Trump supporters most adamantly align with the Republican front runner’s conservative immigration stance to harden policy implementation.   Almost seven out of 10 Republican voters– 69 percent– who identify as Trump supporters say immigrants burden the country. Only 20 percent of this subset say immigrants strengthen the country.

For those who support Ted Cruz, the strength / burden question breaks down to a 51 percent to 36 percent margin. John Kasich supporters are reported as much more equitable in their views with 49 percent viewing immigration as a strength as opposed to 40 percent of supporters who see immigrants as a burden.

Pew also reports the majority of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents– 57 percent– say undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States should be able to remain in the country under certain conditions. Forty-one percent support deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Among Democratic and Democratic-leaning supporters, 88 percent say undocumented immigrants should be provided with a path to a legalized status. Eleven percent of the segment say no path to legalization should be given.

The Pew research is based on telephone interviews conducted in mid- to late-March among a national sample of 2,254 aged 18 or older. The interviews were conducted with respondents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.