Americans' Views on Immigration Policy
NPR/Ipsos poll: Majority of Americans oppose separating families at the border; Path to citizenship for DREAMers has broad support
Washington, DC, July 15, 2018 – A recent survey conducted by Ipsos, on behalf of NPR, identifies Americans’ positions and attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy. Significant disparities exist between Democrats and Republicans regarding a variety of immigration policies. Overall, however, there is little support for a variety of current immigration policies being proposed in Congress or by the Trump Administration.
Less than 3 in 10 Americans (28%) support separating families who cross the border illegally as a deterrent. While just 1 in 10 Democrats (11%) and a quarter of independents support this policy, a majority of Republicans (52%) are in favor. Similarly, just 15% of Democrats support building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, compared to three-quarters of Republicans (74%); overall, less than half of the American public (40%) supports a complete border wall. Democrats tend to show more support for admitting refugees and people seeking asylum, while Republicans remain skeptical. Nearly 3 in 4 Democrats (74%) and half of Independents feel that refugees and people seeking asylum are fleeing real violence and persecution. However, most Republicans (65%) believe that refugees and asylum seekers are taking an unfair advantage of the U.S immigration system.
Out of the policies tested, there are just two that are supported by a majority of Americans: fining U.S. employers found to hire undocumented immigrants (65% support) and giving legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children (60%). Even here, however, partisan differences abound. Over 8 in 10 Republicans (81%) believe in imposing a fine, compared to 56% of Democrats and 67% of Independents. On the other hand, providing legal status to DREAMers earns high marks from Democrats (76%) and Independents (60%), but less so from Republicans (45%).
Currently, 1 in 4 Americans reports that immigration is one of the most worrying facing America, up 7 percentage points from February 2018. This increase is driven by both Democrats (from 10% to 20%) and Independents (from 13% to 25%). Republican concern toward immigration (34%) has remained steady since February.
About the Study
These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted June 19-20, 2018. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,071 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English and Spanish. The sample includes 369 Democrats, 333 Republicans, and 191 Independents.
The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.
Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,071, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=4.9).
The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 5.8 percentage points for Democrats, plus or minus 6.1 percentage points for Republicans, and plus or minus 8.1 percentage points for Independents.
For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or
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Vice President, U.S.
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Ipsos Public Affairs
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About Ipsos Public Affairs
Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.
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