Hispanics' Views on Immigration Unchanged From Last Year

by Joseph Carroll

Majority of three race groups say immigration is good for the country

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- As the debate on illegal immigration legislation has been renewed in Congress, Gallup's annual Minority Rights and Relations survey finds Hispanics most likely to say immigration into the United States should be kept at its present level rather than increased or decreased. A preponderance of whites and blacks (though not majorities) continue to support a decrease in immigration. Nearly three in four Hispanics say that immigration is a good thing for the country today. A majority of whites and blacks share this sentiment, but not to the extent that Hispanics do.

Most Hispanics say they are following the news about proposed legislation to deal with illegal immigration closely at roughly the same level as whites. A majority of Hispanics, along with a majority of whites and blacks, say they disapprove of recent government efforts to deal with illegal immigration in the country.

The poll was conducted June 4-24, 2007, interviewing 2,388 adults nationwide, including 868 non-Hispanic whites, 802 non-Hispanic blacks, and 502 Hispanics. The total sample is weighted to reflect the proper proportions of each group in the U.S. population. Interviews with Hispanics were conducted in both English and Spanish. The extended timeframe of this poll precluded asking highly specific questions about the immigration bill as currently being debated in the Senate.

Immigration Levels

The poll updated a long-term Gallup trend asking Americans if immigration should be "kept at its present level, increased, or decreased." Overall, 45% of Americans say immigration should be decreased, while 35% say kept at its present level and 16% say increased. These results are slightly more negative than what Gallup measured last June, but are consistent with the trends since 2003.

Despite the current focus on the impact of immigration in this country, the trends on this question show that views were most negative in 1993 and 1995, when 65% of Americans said immigration should be decreased. Americans were also particularly negative about immigration in October 2001, immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when 58% favored less immigration. At most, only 17% of Americans have supported increasing immigration to the country in the more than 40-year history of this question.

In the current poll, close to half of whites (48%) and blacks (46%) say immigration should be decreased -- much higher than the 30% of Hispanics who take this position. Still, Hispanics are not overwhelmingly supportive of increasing immigration, as only 25% prefer that; rather, 41% say immigration should be kept at its present level.

Hispanics' views about immigration levels have shown little change in the past three years, with a plurality of roughly 4 in 10 favoring the status quo. Prior to that, Hispanics were about as likely to favor decreased immigration as to favor maintaining present levels. In 2001, however, 33% favored increased immigration, 25% favored decreased immigration, and 38% wanted to keep the levels the same.

Blacks and whites are both slightly more likely to favor decreased immigration now than last year, but are at roughly the same levels Gallup measured from 2002 through 2005.

Immigration Good or Bad for the Country Today?

A solid majority of Americans, 60%, say "immigration is a good thing for the country today." These results are down seven points from last year, but are at roughly the same level that Gallup measured in 2001, 2003, and 2005. In 2002, when support for immigration was down following 9/11, the percentage saying immigration was good for the country was slightly lower, at 52%.

A majority of whites, blacks, and Hispanics agree that immigration is a good thing for the country at this time. However, Hispanics are much more likely than whites or blacks to say this.

The 74% of Hispanics that currently say immigration is a good thing for the country is little changed from the last three years, and is also at roughly the same level measured in June 2001. Only two in three Hispanics said immigration was a good thing in 2002 and 2003.

Hispanics' views of immigration have always been more positive than those of whites or blacks; blacks have always been the most negative.

Public Reaction to Recent Government Efforts to Handle Illegal Immigration

The poll also asked Americans about the recent government efforts to handle the issue of illegal immigration. Seven in 10 Americans say they have been following the news about proposed legislation to deal with the issue of illegal immigration in the United States either "very closely" (23%) or "somewhat closely" (47%). Twenty-nine percent of Americans are not following the debate closely.

Despite the implication of new immigration legislation on the Hispanic community in this country, the poll shows that Hispanics are paying no more attention to the legislation than are whites (68% of Hispanics are following it very/somewhat closely, as are 72% of whites). Blacks (59%) are paying somewhat less attention.

The poll included a question that asked very broadly about "the government's recent efforts to deal with illegal immigration in the U.S." There is majority disapproval of the government's efforts in this regard, regardless of race or ethnicity. Only about one-third of Americans approve of these efforts, while 61% disapprove -- results that are quite similar among Hispanics (58%), whites (60%), and blacks (60%).

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 2,388 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 4-24, 2007, including oversamples of Blacks and Hispanics that are weighted to reflect their proportions in the general population. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

For results based on sample of 868 non-Hispanic whites, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

For results based on sample of 802 blacks, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points.

For results based on sample of 502 Hispanics, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points. (Roughly one-quarter -- 138 of 502 -- of the interviews with Hispanics were conducted in Spanish.)

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

13. In your view, should immigration be kept at its present level, increased, or decreased?

           

Present
level

Increased

Decreased

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

Total

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

35

16

45

4

2006 Jun 8-25

42

17

39

2

2005 Jun 6-25

34

16

46

4

2004 Jun 9-30

33

14

49

4

2003 Jun 12-18

37

13

47

3

2002 Jun 3-9

36

12

49

3

2001 Jun 11-17

42

14

41

3

 

 

 

 

Non-Hispanic
Whites

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

35

12

48

5

2006 Jun 8-25

46

12

41

1

2005 Jun 6-25

33

14

50

3

2004 Jun 9-30

34

13

51

2

2003 Jun 12-15

38

11

49

2

2002 Jun 3-6

36

9

52

3

2001 Jun 11-17

42

10

45

3

 

 

 

 

Blacks

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

29

21

46

5

2006 Jun 8-25

35

21

39

5

2005 Jun 6-25

32

18

44

6

2004 Jun 9-30

34

15

47

4

2003 Jun 12-18

33

20

44

3

2002 Jun 3-9

34

16

46

4

2001 Jun 11-17

42

24

31

3

 

 

 

 

Hispanics

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

41

25

30

4

2006 Jun 8-25

42

21

32

4

2005 Jun 6-25

41

21

32

6

2004 Jun 9-30

33

23

39

5

2003 Jun 12-18

35

24

36

5

2002 Jun 3-9

37

24

37

2

2001 Jun 11-17

38

33

25

4

FULL NATIONAL ADULT TREND

           

Present
level

In-
creased

De-
creased

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2007 Jun 4-24

35

16

45

4

2006 Jun 8-25

42

17

39

2

2006 Apr 7-9

35

15

47

4

2005 Dec 9-11 ^

31

15

51

3

2005 Jun 6-25

34

16

46

4

2004 Jun 9-30

33

14

49

4

2003 Jun 12-18

37

13

47

3

2002 Sep 2-4

26

17

54

3

2002 Jun 3-9

36

12

49

3

2001 Oct 19-21

30

8

58

4

2001 Jun 11-17

42

14

41

3

2001 Mar 26-28

41

10

43

6

2000 Sep 11-13

41

13

38

8

1999 Feb 26-28 ^

41

10

44

5

1995 Jul 7-9

27

7

62

4

1995 Jun 5-6

24

7

65

4

1993 Jul 9-11

27

6

65

2

1986 Jun 19-23 †

35

7

49

9

1977 Mar 25-28

37

7

42

14

1965 Jun 24-29

39

7

33

20

^ Asked of a half sample

† CBS/ New York Times poll

14. On the whole, do you think immigration is a good thing or a bad thing for this country today?

Good thing

Bad thing

Mixed
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

Total

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

60

33

3

4

2006 Jun 8-25

67

28

4

1

2005 Jun 6-25

61

34

3

2

2003 Jun 12-18

58

36

4

2

2002 Jun 3-9

52

42

4

2

2001 Jun 11-17

62

31

5

2

 

 

 

 

Non-Hispanic
Whites

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

59

35

3

3

2006 Jun 8-25

68

27

4

1

2005 Jun 6-25

60

36

2

2

2003 Jun 12-15

58

38

3

1

2002 Jun 3-6

51

43

4

2

2001 Jun 11-17

62

32

4

2

 

 

 

 

Blacks

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

55

36

5

4

2006 Jun 8-25

60

35

3

2

2005 Jun 6-25

55

36

5

4

2003 Jun 12-18

48

45

6

1

2002 Jun 3-9

46

46

6

2

2001 Jun 11-17

61

28

7

4

 

 

 

 

Hispanics

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

74

17

6

3

2006 Jun 8-25

76

18

4

2

2005 Jun 6-25

74

19

4

3

2003 Jun 12-18

65

29

4

2

2002 Jun 3-9

67

27

4

2

2001 Jun 11-17

73

18

2

7

16. How closely have you been following the news about proposed legislation to deal with the issue of illegal immigration in the United States -- very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely, or not at all?

Very
closely

Some-
what
closely

Not too
closely

Not
at all

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

Total

 

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

23

47

23

6

*

 

 

 

 

 

Non-Hispanic
Whites

 

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

21

51

23

5

*

 

 

 

 

 

Blacks

 

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

25

34

24

15

1

 

 

 

 

 

Hispanics

 

 

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

25

43

23

8

1

* = Less than 0.5%
(vol.) = Volunteered response

17. Based on what you have heard or read, do you approve or disapprove of the government's recent efforts to deal with illegal immigration in the U.S.?

Approve

Disapprove

No
opinion

%

%

%

Total

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

32

61

7

 

 

 

Non-Hispanic
Whites

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

32

60

8

 

 

 

Blacks

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

29

60

11

 

 

 

Hispanics

 

 

 

2007 Jun 4-24

37

58

5

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