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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Public Says Let Dreamers Stay

Monday, February 05, 2018

Opinion is split on Trump proposal, most continue to oppose border wall

West Long Branch, NJ – The vast majority of Americans across the political spectrum want to let Dreamers stay in this country. The Monmouth University Poll also finds that the public is divided over the Trump administration’s proposal to tie a resolution of this situation to funding for a border wall. Most feel that Dreamers’ status should be dealt with separately from border security and they oppose building a wall on the Mexican border.

Two thirds of Americans (66%) say it is very important for Congress to reach an agreement on the status of “Dreamers” – illegal immigrants who were brought to this country with their families when they were children – including 77% of Democrats, 63% of Republicans, and 60% of independents. Another 26% say it is somewhat important and just 6% say it is not important. While solving this issue is very important to the public, most (59%) say it would be unacceptable for Congressional Democrats to use the lack of an agreement on Dreamers to hold up another budget deal when the current continuing resolution expires on Thursday.

President Donald Trump proposed a deal that would offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children in exchange for funding a border wall and restricting current immigration programs. The public is divided on the administration’s proposal, with 31% supporting the plan, 33% opposing it, and 36% saying they are not sure. Asking those who are not sure about the plan to indicate which direction they lean does little to clarify public opinion. With leaners included, 47% tend to support the Trump proposal and 45% oppose it. However, the vast majority of Americans (82%) would prefer to see the Dreamer question handled separately and not tied to funding for a border wall.

When asked about Dreamers’ status, nearly 3-in-4 Americans support – 49% strongly and 24% somewhat – allowing these immigrants to automatically become U.S. citizens as long as they don’t have a criminal record. Just 1-in-4 oppose this idea – 13% strongly and 12% somewhat. Support for this type of amnesty program stands at 61% among Republicans, 72% among independents and 87% among Democrats. This level of bipartisan support has been basically stable since last fall.

“There is a clear consensus that Americans want to let Dreamers stay. An outright amnesty proposal has not been part of the policy discussion, but these poll results show that bipartisan support for legalizing Dreamers’ status has held firm over the past few months. At the same time, strong opposition to a deportation approach for handling this situation has been building,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Just 3-in-10 Americans support – 17% strongly and 12% somewhat – taking the punitive steps of returning Dreamers to their birth country and making them re-apply for entry to the U.S. Two-thirds of the public oppose this – 51% strongly and 16% somewhat. Of note, the number who strongly oppose deporting Dreamers has increased by 10 percentage points from 41% in September.

Part of the reason the public is divided on the administration’s proposed solution is that most Americans (57%) continue to oppose building a wall along the Mexican border, while 40% support it. The current level of support is slightly higher than it was last September (35%), but remains lower than it was just over two years ago (48%). The poll finds that 76% of Republicans support building a border wall (up from 65% in September), but just 38% of independents (35% in September) and 9% of Democrats (10% in September) favor building the wall.

“The wall has been a central part of the Trump agenda, but it continues to receive minority support. Most Americans agree that illegal immigration is a serious problem, but they are looking for less draconian solutions, not just for Dreamers, but for other illegal immigrants who are already in the country,” said Murray.

More than 3-in-4 Americans (77%) feel that illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the U.S. for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status. This finding is consistent with past polls, including 76% who favored a pathway to legal status in September 2017 and 69% who said the same in September 2015. Just 20% feel these immigrants should be deported back to their native countries. Large majorities of Democrats (90%), independents (76%), and Republicans (63%) support providing some legal pathway for illegal immigrants who have been in the country for a few years.

Most Americans see illegal immigration as a serious problem facing the country – including 45% who say it is very serious and 25% who say it is somewhat serious. Another 16% say it is not too serious and 13% say it is not at all serious. These results are largely unchanged from a Monmouth poll taken last September. However, Republicans are more likely to say illegal immigration is a very serious problem now (75%) than felt this way last fall (57%). There has been a slight drop in this opinion, though, among independents (38% very serious now versus 43% in September) and Democrats (25% very serious now versus 30% in September).

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from January 28 to 30, 2018 with 806 adults in the United States.  The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

 

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-18 previously released.]

 

  1. How serious a problem do you think the issue of illegal immigration is for the United States right now – very, somewhat, not too, or not at all serious?
TREND: January
2018
September
2017
September
2015
Very serious 45% 43% 45%
Somewhat serious 25% 30% 30%
Not too serious 16% 17% 15%
Not at all serious 13% 10% 9%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1% 2%
(n) (806) (1,009) (1,009)

 

  1. Do you favor or oppose building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico?
TREND: January
2018
September
2017
September
2015
Favor 40% 35% 48%
Oppose 57% 60% 43%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 5% 10%
(n) (806) (1,009) (1,009)

 

  1. If you had to choose, what do you think should happen to most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the U.S. for at least two years? They should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status - OR - They should be deported back to their native country? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]
TREND: January
2018
September
2017
September
2015
They should be given a chance to keep
their jobs and eventually apply for legal status
77% 76% 69%
They should be deported back to their
native country
20% 19% 27%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 5% 4%
(n) (806) (1,009) (1,009)

 

  1. Some people illegally immigrated to the U.S. with their families when they were children. Would you support or oppose making these immigrants return to their birth country and re-apply for entry to the U.S.? [Do you support/oppose this strongly or just somewhat?]
TREND: January
2018
September
2017
Strongly support 17% 18%
Somewhat support 12% 15%
Somewhat oppose 16% 20%
Strongly oppose 51% 41%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 5%
(n) (806) (1,009)

 

  1. And would you support or oppose allowing people who illegally immigrated when they were children to automatically become U.S. citizens as long as they don’t have a criminal record? [Do you support/oppose this strongly or just somewhat?]
TREND: January
2018
September
2017
Strongly support 49% 46%
Somewhat support 24% 24%
Somewhat oppose 12% 11%
Strongly oppose 13% 17%
(VOL) Don’t know 2% 2%
(n) (806) (1,009)

 

  1. How important is it for Congress to reach an agreement on the status of people who illegally immigrated to the U.S. when they were children and are sometimes called Dreamers. Is it very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?
January
2018
Very important 66%
Somewhat important 26%
Not too important 4%
Not at all important 2%
(VOL) Don’t know 1%
(n) (806)

 

25/25A. The Trump administration proposed a deal that would offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children in exchange for funding a border wall system and restricting current immigration programs. Do you support or oppose this proposal, or are you not sure? [If NOT SURE: Would you probably lean more toward supporting or more toward opposing this proposal?]

January
2018
Support 31%
Not sure, lean toward supporting 16%
Not sure 8%
Not sure, lean toward opposing 12%
Oppose 33%
(n) (806)

 

  1. Should a legislative solution on the status of illegal immigrants brought here as children be tied to funding for a border wall or should these two issues be dealt with separately?
January
2018
Tied 14%
Dealt with separately 82%
(VOL) Don’t know 4%
(n) (806)

 

  1. The current federal budget agreement expires on February 8. Even if you don’t agree with their position, do you think it is acceptable or not acceptable for Democrats to say they will not agree to a new budget deal until the status of these immigrants is settled?
January
2018
Acceptable 36%
Not acceptable 59%
(VOL) Don’t know 5%
(n) (806)

 

[Q28-33 previously released.]

 

 METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from January 28 to 30, 2018 with a national random sample of 806 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 401 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 405 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).  Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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