- Slim majority of Americans oppose Obama immigration actions
- Hispanics, immigrants favor actions by more than 2-to-1 margins
- Republicans overwhelmingly oppose, Democrats strongly favor
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Americans overall say they disapprove (51%) rather than approve of (41%) the executive actions President Barack Obama plans to take to deal with undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. However, Hispanics, U.S. immigrants and blacks approve of the actions by wide margins, whereas whites are oppose them.
These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between Nov. 24 and Dec. 8, including interviews with more than 6,000 U.S. adults and more than 500 Hispanics, blacks and U.S. immigrants -- those who report they were born outside the U.S.
Obama outlined his planned steps in a nationally televised address Nov. 20. He intends to grant legal resident status to undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. five years or longer, have children born here and who do not have a criminal record. Republican leaders in Congress widely oppose the move, in particular his use of executive actions rather than the legislative process to change the policy.
The Gallup Daily tracking question did not address the specifics of the actions, but rather asked Americans for their views on the "executive actions President Obama plans to take dealing with certain categories of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S." Recent polls other organizations have conducted since Obama's speech, as well as past polls by Gallup, show Americans favor plans to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements, rather than deporting them. Thus, opposition to Obama's policy may have as much to do with his use of executive actions rather than the legislative process, or simply political opposition to Obama and his agenda more generally, as to the specifics of what he is proposing.
Roughly two-thirds of Americans say they are following news about Obama's immigration actions closely, with relatively little variation in attention paid by whites, blacks, Hispanics and immigrants.
Three in Four Hispanic Immigrants Back Obama's Actions
Obama's actions on immigration will likely help him politically with the growing Hispanic population in the U.S. because Hispanics favor the proposal by a better than 2-to-1 margin. Notably, support is higher among Hispanics who migrated to the U.S. (75%) than among Hispanics who were born in this country (51%), but both groups show greater approval than disapproval.
More generally, those of all racial and ethnic backgrounds who were born outside the U.S. are far more supportive of Obama's proposed actions than those born in this country.
The biggest divide in opinions on the president's immigration actions is political. Whereas 70% of Democrats approve of the actions, 85% of Republicans disapprove. Independents also show greater disapproval than approval.
Obama made clear in his address to the nation that he believes he has the legal authority to use executive actions to address the status of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. However, many disagree, and his actions are already facing challenges. The Republican-led House of Representatives last week passed a bill to block Obama's actions. And 17 states are joining a legal challenge to Obama's proposed actions.
The Gallup data clearly underscore the divisiveness of Obama's actions, both politically and along racial and ethnic lines. However, the groups most opposed to what Obama is doing are also the groups least likely to support him. As a result, even with the overall negative reaction to his immigration plans, his job approval rating has held fairly steady since he announced them.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 24-Dec. 7, 2014, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 6,084 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 4,539 non-Hispanic whites, the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 584 Hispanics, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 553 non-Hispanic blacks, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 574 U.S. immigrants, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Learn more about how Gallup Daily tracking works.